BY ISN STAFFMarch 14, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court is preparing to hear oral arguments in U.S. v. Texas—the legal case that currently blocks implementation of the President’s DAPA and DACA expansion programs.  Advocates, including Fr. Timothy Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, as well as affected individuals, spoke in support of DACA and DAPA and what is at stake for the millions of immigrant families impacted by the ruling, during a Capitol Hill press conference on March 8, 2016.

Fr. Kesicki speaking at the Capitol Hill press conference.

Fr. Kesicki speaking at the Capitol Hill press conference.

Fr. Kesicki reflected on a number of points during his remarks, including that “The U.S. Catholic bishops have affirmed their strong support for President Obama’s Executive Order on relief for immigrant families.” He also offered a personal reflection saying, “I have personally sat with women at this border who have been separated from their families, barred from their children. On their behalf I advocate for the protection and defense of their basic human rights.” Fr. Kesicki’s full statement can be found below.

Other speakers included Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a graduate of the Jesuit-sponsored Saint Peter’s UniversityKica Matos, Director, Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice Center for Community Change; Alida Garcia, Director of Coalitions & Policy, FWD.us.Areli Zarate, a DACA-mented high school teacher from Austin, Texas; Police Chief Richard Biehl, of the Dayton Police Department in Dayton, Ohio; and Juan Carlos Ramos, a member of United We Dream who would be eligible for the expanded DACA program added.

FR. TIMOTHY KESICKI, S.J. STATEMENT: 

Five months ago Pope Francis came to our country and said on the south lawn of the White House:

“As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.”

The next day he addressed a joint session of Congress, with members of the Supreme Court in attendance with these words,

“We the people of this continent are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descendants of immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. . . Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past.”

The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, welcomed the news that the Obama administration would defer deportations for many undocumented immigrants and their families.

“We have a long history of welcoming and aiding the poor, the outcast, the immigrant, and the disadvantaged. Each day, the Catholic Church in the United States, in her social service agencies, hospitals, schools, and parishes, witnesses the human consequences of the separation of families, when parents are deported from their children or spouses from each other. We’ve been on record asking the Administration to do everything within its legitimate authority to bring relief and justice to our immigrant brothers and sisters. As pastors, we welcome any efforts within these limits that protect individuals and protect and reunite families and vulnerable children.”

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky, and president of the USCCB said, “There is an urgent pastoral need for a more humane view of immigrants and a legal process that respects each person’s dignity, protects human rights, and upholds the rule of law.”

Bishop Elizondo added, “I strongly urge Congress and the President to work together to enact permanent reforms to the nation’s immigration system for the best interests of the nation and the migrants who seek refuge here. We will continue to work with both parties to enact legislation that welcomes and protects immigrants and promotes a just and fair immigration policy.”

It is our hope that the Court take these words to heart and overturns the injunction which would prevent families from staying together.

As a Jesuit priest, my religious order works at the border in Nogales, Arizona, crossing each day into Sonora, Mexico to care for our undocumented brothers and sisters who are deported from the United States. This ministry at the border is dedicated to Eusebio Kino, a 17th century Jesuit missionary, who dedicated his life to the Native peoples – his statue stands in the Visitor Center of our United States Capital as a witness to the heroes that helped shape our nation.

I have personally sat with women at this border who have been separated from their families, barred from their children. On their behalf I advocate for the protection and defense of their basic human rights.

 

 

 

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