Statements

/Statements

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by DHS and submitted joint comments with Catholic Charities USA detailing concerns with the rule and urging it be rescinded.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|

U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen of Migration and Domestic Justice Express Opposition to Proposed Rule that Would Lead to Family Separation and Housing Instability

July 3, 2019

WASHINGTON— Today, bishops from two committees at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed their opposition to a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that would lead to separation or housing instability for many families. 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 statements.

“The proposed rule would have terrible consequences for thousands of mixed-status families,” said Bishop Vásquez. “It would force these families to make a heartbreaking choice – endure family separation so that eligible members can continue to receive critical housing assistance or stay together and forfeit any such assistance. This choice between unity and stability is one no family should have to make. We urge HUD to withdraw this deeply concerning proposed rule.”

“The right to decent, safe, and affordable housing is rooted in the fundamental dignity of every person,” said Bishop Dewane. “By proposing this rule, HUD acknowledges the need for more housing assistance so that people in need won’t have to endure long waits for programs that are overwhelmed by demand. More must be done to address housing needs in this country, but it must not be done at the expense of mixed-status families.”

You can see the full comments that USCCB submitted in conjunction with Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., and the Catholic Health Association on the proposed rulemaking by clicking here.

2019-07-03T12:36:33-04:00Statements|

U.S. Bishop Chairmen Affirm SCOTUS Decision and Urge That All People Count and Should Be Included in Census

July 2, 2019

WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank Dewane, of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Bishop Joe Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration, issued the following statement regarding last week’s decision by the United States Supreme Court in Department of Commerce v. New York, regarding the importance of ensuring an accurate count for the U.S. Census:

“We affirm last week’s decision by the Supreme Court that the inclusion of a citizenship question must ensure genuine reasons for such inclusion. We reaffirm that all persons in the United States should be counted in the Census regardless of their immigration status and reemphasize our judgment that questions regarding citizenship should not be included in the Census. We hope that this view will prevail, whether by administrative action or judicial determination.”

2019-07-02T10:01:53-04:00Statements|

President of U.S. Catholic Bishops and Migration Chairman Respond to Deaths of Father and Daughter at Border along with Appalling Conditions in Child Detention

June 26, 2019

WASHINGTON—The cry of a father and his baby daughter who drowned crossing the Rio Grande reaches heaven itself. This unspeakable consequence of a failed immigration system, together with growing reports of inhumane conditions for children in the custody of the federal government at the border, shock the conscience and demand immediate action. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, joins Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, in calling on the federal government to hear the cry of the poor and vulnerable.

Their joint statement follows:

“We join with our Holy Father Pope Francis in immense sadness, having seen the horrific images of Oscar Martinez and his daughter Angie Valeria who drowned in the Rio Grande Valley while attempting to flee persecution and enter the United States. This image cries to heaven for justice. This image silences politics. Who can look on this picture and not see the results of the failures of all of us to find a humane and just solution to the immigration crisis? Sadly, this picture shows the daily plight of our brothers and sisters.  Not only does their cry reach heaven. It reaches us.  And it must now reach our federal government.

All people, regardless of their country of origin or legal status, are made in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect.  Recent reports of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions are appalling and unacceptable for any person in U.S.  custody, but particularly for children, who are uniquely vulnerable.  Such conditions cannot be used as tools of deterrence.  We can and must remain a country that provides refuge for children and families fleeing violence, persecution, and acute poverty.

Congress has a duty to provide additional funding to address the needs of children in federal custody.  Their supplemental appropriations bill should also increase protections for immigrant children, including heightened standards and oversight for border facilities.  It is possible and necessary to care for the safety of migrant children and the security of our citizens.  By putting aside partisan interests, a nation as great as ours is able to do both.”

2019-06-26T10:52:36-04:00Statements|

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration Statement in Response to Imminent Administration Deportation Plans

June 22, 2019

WASHINGTON—On Monday, June 17, 2019, President Donald J. Trump announced impending immigration enforcement actions by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Subsequent press reports on Friday, June 21 indicated that ICE has plans for an enforcement operation in major cities to remove thousands of migrant families with deportation orders.

In response to the President’s statement and reports that have followed, the Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“We recognize the right of nations to control their borders in a just and proportionate manner. However, broad enforcement actions instigate panic in our communities and will not serve as an effective deterrent to irregular migration. Instead, we should focus on the root causes in Central America that have compelled so many to leave their homes in search of safety and reform our immigration system with a view toward justice and the common good. We stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress to achieve those objectives.

During this unsettling time, we offer our prayers and support to our brothers and sisters, regardless of their immigration status, and recognizing their inherent dignity as children of God.”

2019-06-22T13:40:47-04:00Statements|