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USCCB Migration Chair Condemns Administration Plans for the Third Consecutive Mass Reduction in Refugee Resettlement

September 27, 2019

WASHINGTON — For the third consecutive year, the Administration plans to slash the number of refugee admissions for the coming fiscal year, ordering a new record low of 18,000 refugees. That would represent a 40% drop from last year’s already historic low of 30,000. Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, and Chairman of the Committee on Migration of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following statement:

“We are currently in the midst of the world’s greatest forced displacement crisis on record, and for our nation, which leads by example, to lower the number of refugee admissions for those who are in need is unacceptable. Refugees are among the most vulnerable people, fleeing war, religious persecution, and extreme targeted violence. Turning a blind eye to those in need with such callous disregard for human life would go against the values of our nation and fail to meet the standards that make our society great.

“We also have deep concerns about the forthcoming Executive Order permitting state and city officials to turn away refugees from their communities. We fear the collateral negative consequences, especially for refugees and their families, of creating a confusing patchwork across America of some jurisdictions where refugees are welcomed and others where they are not.

“Given the unprecedented humanitarian need and the crucial global leadership role that our country plays, we strongly urge the Administration and Congress — as they engage in the consultation phase mandated by statute — to work together to restore U.S. refugee resettlement to at normal, historical levels.”

2019-09-27T15:55:26-04:00Statements|

World Day for Migrants and Refugees to be Celebrated on Sunday, September 29

September 25, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C.- The Vatican’s World Day for Migrants and Refugees will be held this Sunday, September 29, 2019. The theme for this year’s celebration is, “It is not just about migrants.” Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, noted of the celebration:

“This year’s theme for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees is an opportunity to look at the migration issue from the lens of humanity, of caring for and walking with our brothers and sisters. The World Day for Migrants and Refugees reminds us that it is not about where people come from but their unique God-given human dignity.” Vásquez noted. “It reflects our call as people of faith to welcome our brothers and sisters, promote their well-being, protect them from cruelty and human indifference, and assist in their integration into our community.”

Support for migrants and refugees is particularly vital in this moment as the world is in the midst of the greatest global forced displacement crisis on record. We must continue to embrace love for our neighbor to counter the growing throwaway culture which disregards the human dignity of migrants and refugees.”

Educational resources related to the upcoming World Day for Migrants and Refugees can be found by visiting the Justice for Immigrants website.

2019-09-25T09:58:35-04:00Statements|

USCCB President and Migration Chair Urge Against Further Reduction in Refugee Resettlement as Contrary to American Values

September 13, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Administration officials will reportedly recommend to President Trump that the number of refugee admissions for the coming year will be fewer than 30,000 refugees, already an historic low. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Chair of USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“Further reductions in the number of refugees allowed to seek freedom in the United States would be wholly counter to our values as a nation of immigrants. America welcomes refugees; that is who we are, that is what we do. Such reductions would undermine America’s leadership role as a global champion and protector of religious freedom and human rights. Beginning with European refugees in the aftermath of World War I, the Catholic Church in the United States has more than a century of experience resettling vulnerable populations to a safer life and one in which they have contributed to the greatness of America. The 3.4 million refugees that America has welcomed since 1975 have paid billions of dollars in taxes, founded companies, earned citizenship, and bought homes at notably high rates.

As the Catholic Church prepares to celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees on September 29th, we are reminded of Pope Francis urging us all to work for a ‘globalization of solidarity’ with refugees, not a globalization of ‘indifference’. In light of refugees’ extraordinary contributions to our country, and of the world’s struggle with the greatest forced displacement crisis on record and historic highs in religious persecution, we categorically oppose any further reductions in the refugee resettlement program.”

2019-09-13T10:33:37-04:00Statements|

Chair of USCCB’s Committee on Migration Denounces New Rule Undermining Existing Protections for Immigrant Children

August 23, 2019

WASHINGTON— Today, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, condemned the final rule published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) relating to the care and custody of immigrant children under the Flores Settlement Agreement. The agreement sets forth foundational principles and critical protections regarding the care, custody, and release of immigrant children who are in federal custody, including the general requirements that they be housed in the least restrictive setting and in licensed facilities for childcare.

The rule will drastically undermine existing Flores protections for immigrant children in federal custody.

“This rule will have heartbreaking consequences for immigrant children – those whom Pope Francis has deemed ‘the most vulnerable group’ among migrants,” said Vásquez. “It is an attempt by the Administration to circumvent existing obligations and undermine critical protections for these children. This rule will jeopardize the well-being and humane treatment of immigrant children in federal custody and will result in children suffering long-lasting consequences of being held for prolonged periods in family detention. We oppose this rule that we believe is unlawful and inhumane.  Countless children will be harmed by this new rule and this is simply not acceptable.”

USCCB also opposed this rule when it was initially proposed by DHS and HHS by submitting comments detailing concerns with the rule and urging it be rescinded.

2019-08-23T10:02:41-04:00Statements|

Chairs of USCCB’s Committees on Migration and Domestic Justice and Human Development Express Deep Concern Over New Rule on Individuals and Families that Access Public Benefits

August 13, 2019

WASHINGTON— Today, bishops from two committees at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed their strong opposition to a final rule on public charge put forth by the Department of Homeland Security. The rule, which is expected to be officially published on August 14th and will take effect sixty days after publication, will undoubtedly have a negative consequence for families accessing critical public benefits for which they otherwise qualify. Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice, FL, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, offered the following statement.

“This rule will undermine family unity and lead many lawful immigrants to forgo vital assistance, including enrollment in nutrition, housing, and medical programs.  Families already in the U.S. will be faced with deciding whether to access critical  assistance programs for which they qualify, knowing that in doing so they could jeopardize their ability to stay here with their loved ones. And, it will reduce the ability of many to reunify with family in the U.S. We have already seen the culture of fear that the anticipation of this rule has created in our communities. Ultimately, we believe that this rule is in tension with the dignity of the person and the common good that all of us are called to support.”

The USCCB also opposed this rule when it was initially proposed by DHS and submitted joint comments with Catholic Charities USA detailing concerns with the rule and urging it be rescinded.

 

2019-08-13T10:19:20-04:00Statements|

Chair of USCCB Committee on Migration Urges Rescission of New Rule that Undermines our Asylum System and Puts Vulnerable Individuals and Families at Risk

August 12, 2019

WASHINGTON— Recently, the Trump Administration issued an “interim final rule” that would nearly eviscerate our current asylum system. A 30-day period was given to submit comments to the government about the rule. The move would allow the Administration to block most individuals arriving at our southern border from gaining access to asylum in the U.S. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops submitted comments on August 9th and called the rule “unlawful, unjust, and unwise.”

Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, Chair of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“We have grave concerns about the Administration’s interim final rule, issued on July 16, 2019, that greatly limits U.S. asylum eligibility at the southern border,” said Bishop Vásquez. “The rule would turn our back on the vast majority of asylum seekers, requiring them to apply for protection in almost any other country through which they transit, leaving access to U.S. asylum exceptionally rare. Not only do we believe that this rule is unlawful, but it also jeopardizes the safety of vulnerable individuals and families fleeing persecution and threatens family unity. Further, the rule undermines our nation’s tradition of being a global leader providing and being a catalyst for others to provide humanitarian protection to those in need. We remind the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security that how we respond to asylum seekers arriving at our border is a test of our moral character and strongly urge the Administration to rescind this rule.”

Please find a copy of the comments here.

 

2019-08-12T11:50:37-04:00Statements|

In Wake of Horrific, Hate Filled Violence in El Paso, USCCB Migration Chairman, Domestic Social Development Chairman, and Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Racism Call for Change in Language and Rhetoric of All Americans

August 8, 2019

WASHINGTON— Today, Bishops from three committees at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed their deep concern about racism and xenophobia that apparently motivated this weekend’s massacre in El Paso and that have motivated numerous other recent mass shootings in the United States. The Chairmen called on our elected officials to exert leadership in seeking to heal the wounds that these shootings have caused and to deal with the scourges of racism, xenophobia, and religious bigotry, including refraining from expressing hurtful, painful, and divisive rhetoric that dehumanizes and polarizes people on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the Committee on Migration, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice, FL, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Social Development, and Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism offered the following comments.

“The tragic loss of life of 22 people this weekend in El Paso demonstrates that hate-filled rhetoric and ideas can become the motivation for some to commit acts of violence. The anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim, and anti-Semitic sentiments that have been publicly proclaimed in our society in recent years have incited hatred in our communities. Hatred and harsh rhetoric were echoed in the El Paso shooter’s explanation about why he committed this weekend’s shooting, as well as being evident in the motivation of the shooters who attacked the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last year and the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in 2015. We, therefore, renew our call to all to act swiftly to stop using hate-filled language that demeans and divides us and motivates some to such horrific violence. Instead, we ask our leaders and all Americans to work to unite us as a great, diverse, and welcoming people.”

2019-08-08T11:05:31-04:00Statements|

Chair of USCCB Committee on Migration Calls for Reversal of the Expansion of Expedited Removal, cites Family Separation and Lack of Due Process Among Concerns

July 25, 2019

 

WASHINGTON— On Tuesday, the Administration significantly expanded the use of a controversial fast-track removal or “expedited removal” process for migrants suspected of being undocumented, and includes migrants who cannot prove to an immigration officer that they have resided in the United States continuously for two years or longer. This move by the Administration gives the Department of Homeland Security authority to remove migrants suspected of being undocumented from the United States while circumventing important due process protections. Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, Chair of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

 

“I call on the Department of Homeland Security to reverse its decision to expand its policy of expedited removal. This action is yet another escalation of this Administration’s enforcement-only immigration approach, and it will have terrible human consequences.  The new policy will allow for the deportation of many more individuals without providing them an opportunity to seek legal counsel and have a hearing before an immigration judge.

 

Even those migrants who have long-standing ties to the U.S. and have been in the country for more than the requisite two years required under the new policy may now be subjected to expedited removal if they are unable to prove such to the satisfaction of an individual immigration officer.

 

The implementation of this new policy will have unjust and unacceptable results and lead to more widespread family separation, stoking fear in our communities.”

2019-07-24T20:54:32-04:00Statements|

Elimination of U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program “Against the Principles We Have as a Nation” Says Chair of USCCB Committee on Migration

WASHINGTON— Thursday it was reported that the Administration is considering “zeroing out” the refugee resettlement program. This would effectively put an end, at least temporarily, to the United States resettling those fleeing persecution from countries overseas.

Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, Chair of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“This recent report, if true, is disturbing and against the principles we have as a nation and a people, and has the potential to end the refugee resettlement program entirely. The world is in the midst of the greatest humanitarian displacement crisis in almost a century. I strongly oppose any further reductions of the refugee resettlement program. Offering refuge to those fleeing religious and other persecution has been a cornerstone of what has made this country great and a place of welcome. Eliminating the refugee resettlement program leaves refugees in harm’s way and keeps their families separated across continents.

Every refugee resettled in the United States goes through an extensive vetting process that often takes 18 months to two years to complete. It incorporates live interviews and several extensive checks by multiple departments within the government. Many of these refugees have familial ties here and quickly begin working to rebuild their lives and enrich their communities.

As Pope Francis has said we must work for “globalization of solidarity” with refugees, not a globalization of indifference. Rather than ending the program, we should work instead to restore the program to its historic norms of an annual resettlement goal of 95,000.”

2019-07-19T16:23:21-04:00Statements|

USCCB President Condemns Threat of Widespread Enforcement Actions and New Rule Drastically Limiting Asylum

July 16, 2019

 

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, made the following statement in response to the climate of fear created by the Department of Homeland Security’s announced immigration enforcement actions and the Administration’s new Interim Final Rule to drastically limit asylum, which was published today:

“Enforcement actions like those anticipated this week by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency separate families, cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents, and create widespread panic in our communities. I condemn such an approach, which has created a climate of fear in our parishes and communities across the country. I recently wrote the President asking him to reconsider this action.

A stated intent of these actions is to deter Central Americans fleeing for their lives from seeking refuge in the United States. This is both misguided and untenable.  It is contrary to American and Christian values to attempt to prevent people from migrating here when they are fleeing to save their lives and to find safety for their families.

And, in addition to this climate of fear, we have seen the Administration today take further unacceptable action to undermine the ability of individuals and families to seek protection in the United States. The Administration’s new rule on asylum eligibility presents a similar enforcement-only immigration approach. The rule adds further barriers to asylum-seekers’ ability to access life-saving protection, shirks our moral duty, and will prevent the United States from taking its usual leading role in the international community as a provider of asylum protection. Further, while still reviewing the rule, initial analysis raises serious questions about its legality.

I urge the President to reconsider these actions, the new rule, and its enforcement-only approach.  I ask that persons fleeing for their lives be permitted to seek refuge in the U.S. and all those facing removal proceedings be afforded due process.  All who are at or within our borders should be treated with compassion and dignity. Beyond that, a just solution to this humanitarian crisis should focus on addressing the root causes that compel families to flee and enacting a humane reform of our immigration system.

Pope Francis, in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2019, reminds us that ‘the presence of migrants and refugees – and of vulnerable people in general – is an invitation to recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity that risk being overlooked in a prosperous society.’”

2019-07-16T09:26:00-04:00Statements|