Statements

/Statements

President of U.S. Bishops’ and Chairman of Bishop’s Committee on Migration Respond to President’s Order to Build Border Wall

February 15, 2019

WASHINGTON—Today President Trump announced that he will issue an order stating his intention to make use of funds previously appropriated for other purposes to fund the construction of a border wall at the U.S./Mexico border that Congress has refused to fund.  Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following joint statement:

“We are deeply concerned about the President’s action to fund the construction of a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, which circumvents the clear intent of Congress to limit funding of a wall.  We oppose the use of these funds to further the construction of the wall. The wall first and foremost is a symbol of division and animosity between two friendly countries. We remain steadfast and resolute in the vision articulated by Pope Francis that at this time we need to be building bridges and not walls.”

2019-02-15T13:26:27-04:00Statements|

U.S. Bishops President Along with Chairman of Bishops’ Migration Committee Issue Statement Urging the President and Lawmakers to End the Shutdown

January 20, 2019

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, of Houston, Texas, President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following joint statement in response to the President’s January 19th remarks:

“We urge the President and lawmakers to end the shutdown. Political leaders must come together to ensure a bipartisan solution is reached which recognizes the economic struggle that many families are facing including those dependent on federal workers and those assisted by critical nutrition and housing programs.

We are encouraged by the President’s openness to providing legislative relief for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients. However, we understand that the President’s proposal would only provide temporary relief, leaving many in a continued vulnerable state. We believe that a permanent legislative solution for TPS holders and for all Dreamers is vital. Moreover, the proposal calls for the construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, a proposal that our brother bishops on both sides of the U.S. border with Mexico oppose, and it suggests changes in current law that would make it more difficult for unaccompanied children and asylum seekers to access protection.

Throughout our parishes, there are many DACA youth and TPS holders, who have lived substantial parts of their lives in the U.S. contributing to this country. We listen and understand the fear and uncertainty they and their families face and the anguish that they are currently experiencing as their existing immigration protections hang in the balance and come to an end. Temporary relief will not ease those fears or quell that anxiety. It is for this reason that we have long advocated for comprehensive immigration reform; reform that will provide permanent solutions: including border security, protection for vulnerable unaccompanied children and asylum seekers, and a defined path to citizenship to enable our immigrant brothers and sisters to fully contribute to our society.

We look forward to reviewing the President’s proposal in detail and hope to work with the White House and Congress to advance legislation that shows compassion, keeps us safe, and protects the vulnerable.”

2019-01-21T15:23:57-04:00Statements|

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration Calls on President and Congress to Create a Border Solution and End Shut-Down

Bishop Joseph Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration issued the following statement calling for the President and Congressional leaders to create a border solution and end the government shut-down.

Bishop Vasquez’s full statement follows:

“Secure borders and humane treatment of those fleeing persecution and seeking a better life are not mutually exclusive. The United States can ensure both and must do so without instilling fear or sowing hatred. We will continue to advocate for immigration reform to advance the common good and address these issues.

Pope Francis states that migrants are not statistics, but persons with feelings that need ongoing protection. From our work serving immigrant and refugees along the U.S./Mexico border, in the interior of the United States and throughout the world, we know this to be true. We urge lawmakers to look beyond rhetoric and remember the human dignity that God our Father has given each of us simply because we are all His children.

The President and Congressional leaders need to come together and end the shut-down with a solution that recognizes the dignity of work of affected employees, respects the humanity of all regardless of immigration status, and protects the sanctity of human life.”

2019-01-10T10:42:38-04:00Statements|

National Migration Week to be Celebrated January 6 – 12, 2019

WASHINGTON—National Migration Week 2019 will take place January 6 – 12. For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which provides an opportunity for the Church to highlight the presence and situation of immigrants, refugees, victims, and survivors of human trafficking. The week serves as a time for both prayer and action in support of immigrants and refugees.

The theme for this year’s celebration – “Building Communities of Welcome” – emphasizes our responsibility and opportunity as Catholics to engage and welcome newcomers on their arrival and help to ease their transition into a new life here in the United States. Welcoming communities do not emerge by chance but are established through the hard work and conviction of people on the ground through direct service, shared experience and faith, advocacy, and institution building

“In this moment, it is particularly important for the Church to highlight the spirit of welcome that we are all called to embody in response to immigrant and refugee populations who are in our midst sharing our Church and our communities,” said Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration.

Educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week are available for download at https://justiceforimmigrants.org/take-action/national-migration-week/.

2019-01-04T12:04:14-04:00Statements|

Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration and Bishops from Texas Dioceses Issue Statement on the Death of Jakelin Caal Maquin

December 18, 2018

On December 8, seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died in the custody of United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). She and her father had been apprehended the evening of December 6 in a remote stretch of the U.S./Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.  Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, along with Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso and Most Reverend Gerald Kicanas, Administrator of the Diocese of Las Cruces, issued the following statement:

“We are extremely distressed at the news of seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin’s death shortly after crossing the U.S./Mexico border with her father and turning themselves into CBP in search of asylum in the United States.  Our prayers and heart-felt condolences go out to Jakelin’s family. The death of a child is always a moment of great sadness, a jarring disruption of the natural order of life.  From this tragedy, we must remember this profound human consequence of our failed immigration policies, including also that restrictions on the flow of asylum seekers at the border can push more families to seek entrance between ports of entry which place them at greater risk. Jakelin’s death is a tragic reminder of the desperate situation that many fleeing violence, persecution, and poverty face – both in their home countries and now at our border.

We welcome the investigation of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.  We recognize the work and commitment of CBP officers to ensure our safety, but urge CBP leadership to critically review policies regarding the care of vulnerable populations in their custody. We pledge our assistance to help CBP do so.

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus, himself a child whose parents were told “there is no room,” we continue to recognize and affirm that seeking asylum and protection is legal.  As a nation, we have the obligation to receive distraught individuals and families with welcome, compassion, and humane treatment.  We must heed the words of Christ that “Whatsoever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

2018-12-18T16:35:17-04:00Statements|

Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, Presidents of Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Legal Immigration Network Issued Statement Regarding Their Deep Concern About Restricting Access to Asylum

November 14, 2018

WASHINGTON— Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, Sister Donna Markham, OP, Phd, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, and Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services issued an statement reiterating that it is not a crime to seek asylum and urging the Administration to seek other solutions that will strengthen the integrity of the existing immigration system.

On November 9, 2018, President Trump issued a proclamation barring people arriving to the U.S./Mexico border from receiving U.S. asylum unless they request it at a U.S. port of entry, a direct contradiction of existing U.S. asylum law (see here)

The full statement follows:

“While our teaching acknowledges the right of each nation to regulate its borders, we find this action deeply concerning. It will restrict and slow access to protection for hundreds of children and families fleeing violence in Central America, potentially leaving them in unsafe conditions in Mexico or in indefinite detention situations at the U.S./Mexico border. We reiterate that it is not a crime to seek asylum and this right to seek refuge is codified in our laws and in our values. We urge the Administration to seek other solutions that will strengthen the integrity of the existing immigration system, while assuring access to protection for vulnerable children and families. The Catholic Church will continue to serve, accompany and assist all those who flee persecution, regardless of where they seek such protection and where they are from.”

2018-12-04T14:49:26-04:00Statements|

Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration and Presidents of Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA Issued Statement Urging Humane Action Towards Those Seeking Protection

October 29, 2018

WASHINGTON— Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, and Sister Donna Markham OP PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA issued the following statement urging all people of goodwill to speak and act with compassion towards those migrating north and seeking refuge from violence and poverty.

The full statement follows:

“As Catholic agencies assisting poor and vulnerable migrants in the United States and around the world, we are deeply saddened by the violence, injustice, and deteriorating economic conditions forcing many people to flee their homes in Central America. While nations have the right to protect their borders, this right comes with responsibilities: governments must enforce laws proportionately, treat all people humanely, and provide due process.

We affirm that seeking asylum is not a crime. We urge all governments to abide by international law and existing domestic laws that protect those seeking safe haven and ensure that all those who are returned to their home country are protected and repatriated safely.

Furthermore, we strongly advocate for continued U.S. investments to address the underlying causes of violence and lack of opportunity in Central America. Our presence throughout the Americas has convinced us that migration is a regional issue that requires a comprehensive, regional solution. An enforcement-only approach does not address nor solve the larger root causes that cause people to flee their countries in search of protection.

As Christians, we must answer the call to act with compassion towards those in need and to work together to find humane solutions that honor the rule of law and respect the dignity of human life.”

2018-10-29T12:31:53-04:00Statements|

Statement in Response to Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Immigrants and Public Benefits

September 23, 2018 

WASHINGTON–On September 22, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that dramatically alters certain longstanding government policies related to legal immigrants’ access to essential safety net programs. 

Bishop Joe Vasquez, Chair of the Committee on Migration and Bishop of Austin, Texas, together with Bishop Frank Dewane, Chair of Committee on Domestic and Social Development and Bishop of Venice, Florida stated:  

“Yesterday’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking undercuts decades of administrative policies and guidelines on how immigrants are treated by the United States government.This further compounds strict eligibility guidelines already in place preventing many immigrants from receiving federal aid. While just beginning to review the Proposed Rule, upon initial analysis, it appears that this will be very harmful to families, raising fear among immigrant families already struggling to fulfill the American Dream. Further, it is likely to prevent families from accessing important medical and social services vital to public health and welfare.” 

For the Press Release in Spanish, click here

2018-09-24T12:26:10-04:00Statements|

Bishop Vásquez, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration Releases Statement on the Setting of the U.S. Refugee Limit for the Year 2019

September 18, 2018

WASHINGTON—The United States Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, announced yesterday that the Administration will set the Presidential Determination, the level of refugees allowed into the United States, at 30,000 refugees for 2019.  This is the lowest number set in the history of the U.S. refugee admissions program which was formally created in 1980.

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:

“The announcement of the Presidential Determination is deeply disturbing and leaves many human lives in danger. To cut off protection for many who are fleeing persecution, at a time of unprecedented global humanitarian need, contradicts who we are as a nation. Offering refuge to those fleeing violence, torture, or religious persecution is a cornerstone of our history. We as a country are blessed with vast resources making us capable of securely welcoming those fleeing harm. Closing our doors on those seeking such safety is not who we are as a people. In the coming days, we pray that Congress will have the opportunity to engage in the formal consultation process with the Administration that is required by law. During this mandatory consultation process, Congress should strongly urge the Administration to return to a refugee admission level that reflects local community response and support of refugees, global refugee protection needs, and our long history of compassionately welcoming refugees.”

2018-09-18T14:01:48-04:00Statements|

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.”

To learn more about how you can help visit:  Justice for Immigrants  and Catholic Charities USA

2018-07-12T14:43:04-04:00Statements|