Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities USA Lend Their Support to Catholic Charities Agencies Reuniting Families
WASHINGTON—The Migration and Refugee Services of USCCB and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) today issued the following statement on the ongoing efforts to reunite children separated from their families at the border.
“As we have long done, CCUSA and Migration and Refugee Services of USCCB are lending our experience and expertise to support Catholic Charities agencies in their efforts to reunite families and care for immigrant children during this sensitive time. While we strongly oppose the policies that led to these families being separated, we remain committed to working to ensure their safe reunification. Protection of families is a foundational element of Catholic Social Teaching and this moment calls on all people of good will to lend a hand to reunite these children with their parents.”
Chairmen of U.S. Bishops’ Migration Committee and Religious Liberty Committee Express Disappointment with Supreme Court’s Ruling in Travel Ban Case
WASHINGTON—On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Trump v. Hawaii, which involves a challenge to President Donald Trump’s Proclamation No. 9645 restricting travel from several predominantly Muslim-majority countries. The Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling upheld the travel ban.
Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chair of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following joint statement:
“The travel ban targets Muslims for exclusion, which goes against our country’s core principle of neutrality when it comes to people of faith. We are disappointed in the Court’s ruling because it failed to take into account the clear and unlawful targeting of a specific religious group by the government. The Catholic Church takes a strong stand against religious discrimination, and we will continue to advocate for the rights of people of all faiths, as well as serve migrants and refugees through our various ministries.”
The USCCB, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the Supreme Court advocating that the travel ban be struck down as a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The full text of the brief is available online: http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/usccb-scotus-amicus-brief-20180330-as-filed.pdf
Chairman of U.S. Bishops Committee on Migration Expresses Concern about Immigration Bills Before Congress, Urges Bipartisan Engagement
June 19, 2018
WASHINGTON—Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB/COM) Committee on Migration, sent a letter to every Member of the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday in response to two immigration bills that are expected to be taken up later this week by the full House. Bishop Vasquez had previously written in opposition to the first of the two bills (H.R. 4760), introduced in January of this year. The Bishop’s June 18 letter focuses most of its attention on a second, yet-to-be-numbered House Republican Leadership alternative bill.
In his letter to Congress, Bishop Vásquez wrote, “While we truly want a legislative solution for Dreamers, we cannot, in good faith, endorse large structural changes to the immigration system that detrimentally impact families and the vulnerable, such as those that are contained in this legislation. We welcome the opportunity to dialogue with lawmakers and to discuss possible opportunities for further compromise, particularly with respect to effects on families and the vulnerable.”
Bishop Vásquez added, “My brother bishops and I appreciate the effort by Representatives to find a legislative solution for Dreamers by bringing immigration measures before the House of Representatives. We believe that any such legislation must be bipartisan, provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship, be pro-family, protect the vulnerable and be respectful of human dignity with regard to border security and enforcement.” Bishop Vásquez reminded Members of the House that the Administration can end family separation without legislation through executive discretion.
USCCB Chairman of Committee on Migration Letter to Congress with Concerns on Two Immigration Bills Before Congress
June 18, 2018
I write on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM) concerning the two pending immigration bills that may be brought to the House floor this week.
For over 18 years, the Catholic Church has urged Congress to put forth and pass a common sense and just legislative solution for Dreamers, young people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents. We believe that any such legislative solution must: (1) be bipartisan, (2) provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship, (3) be pro-family, (4) protect the vulnerable; and (5) be respectful of human dignity with regard to border security and enforcement.
While my brother bishops and I appreciate your good faith effort to find a legislative solution for Dreamers by bringing immigration measures before the full House of Representatives, these two bills contain a number of provisions that cause us serious concern. As the USCCB/COM has written regarding our opposition to H.R. 4760 in the past, I turn to the second, yet-to-be-numbered alternative immigration bill that also may soon be before you. As written, this bill contains several provisions that run contrary to our Catholic social teaching. Specifically, it would:
- undermine asylum protections by significantly raising the hurdle applicants face during the “Credible Fear” review;
- lead to increases in child and family detention through the proposed changes to the Flores Settlement;
- eliminate protection for unaccompanied minors through the proposed changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA);
- includes part of the DACA-eligible population but does not include same population eligible in the USA Act and the Dream Act;
- make sweeping cuts to family-based immigration; and
- unilaterally implement a safe third country agreement without a bilateral or multilateral treaty or agreement.
Lastly, it is important to note that the bill would not end the practice of separating families at the U.S./Mexico border, which could be ended by the Administration at its discretion at any point. Instead, (as mentioned above) this bill would increase the number of children and families in detention, which is not acceptable.
While we truly want a legislative solution for Dreamers, we cannot, in good faith, endorse large structural changes to the immigration system that detrimentally impact families and the vulnerable, such as those that are contained in this legislation. The Catholic Church’s work in assisting these vulnerable migrants stems from the belief that every person is created in God’s image and should be treated with compassion and dignity.
We respectfully urge you to reject H.R. 4760. With respect to the alternative immigration bill that has been put forward, we ask for timely consideration of our concerns mentioned above, particularly the cuts to family-based immigration, as well as the harmful changes to the asylum system and existing protections for unaccompanied children. Without such changes to these measures, we would be compelled to oppose it.
We ask for a truly bipartisan effort to achieve a legislative solution for Dreamers that will protect them, keep our borders safe, and not harm families or the vulnerable. We remain committed to working with Congress to find such a solution.
Wishing you God’s blessings in your work on these critical issues, I am
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez
Bishop of Austin
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration