Extremely Disappointed: Catholic Voices on Immigration Ruling


BY ISN STAFFJune 27, 2016

immigrant-rights-supreme-courtNational Catholic leaders expressed disappointment with the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of United States v. Texas, in which 34 states have challenged immigration guidelines issued by the Secretary of Homeland Security, relating to the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The Court deadlocked in a 4-4 tie, which means that the programs will remain preliminarily blocked nationwide from going into effect, and the matter will return to the federal trial court for further proceedings. The original DACA program is not affected by the injunction.

The following public statements have been released by Catholic leaders and national organizations:

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the Committee on Migration of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

For over fifty years, USCCB Migration & Refugee Services has helped create a world where immigrants, migrants, refugees, and people on the move are treated with dignity, respect, welcome, and belonging. For over fifty years, Migration & Refugee Services has welcomed the newcomer —the immigrant—to this great country and helped them get on their feet, facilitating access to education, healthcare, language assistance, employment, and much more.

The Court’s decision today does not change that.

That said, the decision is a huge disappointment; it means millions of families will continue to live in fear of deportation and without the immediate ability to improve their lives through education and good jobs. However, in the wake of this opinion, we must also focus on the bigger picture: comprehensive immigration reform is necessary to fix our broken system. We need to bring people out of the shadows. We should not separate families. While today’s decision is a setback, we must not lose hope that reform is possible. It is both necessary and possible to safeguard our immigration system in a humane manner.

People do not cease to be our brothers and sisters just because they have an irregular immigration status. No matter how they got here, we cannot lose sight of their humanity — without losing our own. Let us pray for all of our immigrant brothers and sisters today.

Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Columban missionaries are disappointed in today’s split decision by the Supreme Court on United States v. Texas. The split decision in this case leaves millions of families, including those in Columban parishes and communities, in fear of being separated and torn apart. Our faith tradition calls us to do better, to have compassion, and to welcome the stranger. In the face of this decision, we will continue to seek justice for our migrant sisters and brothers.

Fr. Robert Mosher, Director of the Columban Mission Center in El Paso, Texas added, “The battle for the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) under the present administration is over. The fight continues, however, as we strive to ensure decent treatment for people who have contributed to our society and have decided to make their home among us.”

Columbans stand alongside those families affected by today’s decision. We will continue to work for permanent and lasting reform to our immigration system so we no longer see families and communities traumatized by inhumane treatment including raids, detention, and deportation. Now, more than ever, we call on both Congress and the administration to uphold the values of family unity and human dignity.

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

The Sisters of Mercy lament the split decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that in effect will continue to delay implementation of President Obama’s 2014 executive order that would have offered temporary deportation relief for certain undocumented immigrants who pose a low safety and security threat.

With 6.1 million U.S. citizens living with a family member in danger of deportation, that leaves countless Americans at risk of becoming impoverished and separated from loved ones.

President Obama’s order provided temporary relief from deportation and temporary work authorization for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. It offered the same provisions to certain undocumented parents of children who are either U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents.

The Court’s 4-4 decision means the case will return to lower courts, where it could be held up indefinitely. The current injunction against the order’s implementation will remain.

The Sisters of Mercy have long protested a practice of deportations of immigrants that tears families and communities apart. The Supreme Court’s decision stiffens our resolve to continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform legislation that keeps families together and creates a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants. We also will continue to unmask the root causes of migration and inform government officials of the implications of the United States’ policies in Latin America.

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

“Today, we weep,” said Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, executive director of NETWORK Lobby. “This ruling will create more fear for millions across the country who risk having their families torn apart due to our broken immigration system. As a person of faith, I know that we are called to welcome the stranger and protect families. Today the Supreme Court denied both of these sacred truths.”

DAPA and DACA are commonsense programs that are responsible efforts to prioritize resources and protect families. The Supreme Court had an opportunity to provide clarity and guidance for the nation. Instead, they turned their backs on the immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and children who only know the U.S. as home. Our communities will continue to suffer as a result. We urge President to roll back family detention policies while millions of Americans are waiting in limbo for Congress to act on immigration reform.

“Now, we look to the elections November,” continued Sister Simone. “As Pope Francis says, ‘we must build bridges, not walls.’ Today’s decision means that all Pope Francis voters will double-down on ensuring that immigration is a deciding issue at the polls this fall. The NETWORK community will not rest until immigration reform with a path to citizenship is a reality. Candidates are put on notice that we expect immigration reform to be achieved in the first 100 days of the new Congress and new Administration. This reform will evidence the family values that are the bedrock of our nation.”

Pax Christi USA

The Supreme Court decision in the US v Texas case.  It stands as a clear example that common sense along with freedom from the fear of being in detention and deportation is not quite as important as political partisanship.

As faith leaders, we have worked tirelessly to ‘welcome the stranger’ among us and to live the Gospel mandate ‘whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.’  Today we re-commit ourselves and our membership to continue examining our flawed, inhuman and unjust Immigration system and to seek out its root causes.

Granting a just and effective path to citizenship, offering temporary work permits and keeping families together to those who are contributing not only to the US economy, but to the rich diversity of our local communities is the least we can offer 6 million people who have suffered too much already for wanting to live without fear and in peace.

Franciscan Action Network 

The Franciscan Action Network (FAN) is deeply disappointed in the outcome of today’s Supreme Court’s deadlock decision on the expansion of DACA and DAPA. The Supreme Court had an opportunity to ensure that families are kept together. Instead, they have proven to our immigrant brothers and sisters that they must live in fear. They have shown Americans that it is acceptable to demonize those who are living in the shadows.

“The Supreme Court’s callous decision to tear families apart just feeds into the nativist narrative of ‘us vs. them,’” said Sr. Marie Lucey, Franciscan Action Network’s Director of Advocacy. “The United States is a land of immigrants and children should be able to live without fear that one or both of their parents will be taken away from them. This decision also shows the importance of having nine Supreme Court justices.”

While this is a setback for immigrant families, the battle is not over. FAN will not stop advocating for our immigrant brothers and sisters until every member of our community can live in dignity, without fear of being separated from their families.

Immediate action must be taken. FAN calls on Congress to once again take up comprehensive immigration reform and to confirm President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. FAN calls on President Obama to stop deporting our immigrant brothers and sisters who are escaping gang violence and war in their home countries.

FAN implores the Department of Justice to continue to work aggressively in defense of the legality of these programs. We urge them to seek a rehearing before a full court as soon as possible. Immigrant families — and all Americans — deserve a decisive answer, not a hung jury.

The stakes are simply too high.

Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC)

The Supreme Court’s 4-4 ruling today in U.S. v. Texas shatters the hopes of millions of immigrants who might otherwise have obtained temporary relief from immigration enforcement under two Obama administration programs.
“We’re extremely disappointed,” said Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., the largest network of nonprofit immigration legal services programs in the nation.
“The tied vote means millions of long-term U.S. residents continue to be blocked from the chance to live with their families without fear of deportation, while working legally and attaining a college education,” Atkinson said. “It leaves millions of long-term U.S. residents in fear of law enforcement and at risk of mistreatment in the workplace, by landlords and from abusers due to threats of deportation. Those people, many of whom were brought to the U.S. as children, will continue to fear interactions with law enforcement agencies and continue to face mistreatment in the workplace and other settings because deportation looms as a threat.”
The decision leaves in place the November 2015 ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that affirmed a Texas District Court from February 2015. That ruling blocked President Obama’s executive actions that would expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, and create the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program, or DAPA. The original DACA program is not affected by the injunction.  

The case was a challenge by 26 states to the November 2014 presidential orders to expand access to DACA and create DAPA, a similar program for the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. An estimated 5 million people could have potentially benefited from the two programs. The DACA expansion would have allowed a larger segment of people who came to the United States as minors to be granted deferral of deportation and a work permit. DAPA would have been a similar program for the parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, offering the same benefits.
“The onus is now, more than ever, on Congress to set aside partisan gamesmanship and get on with the real business of addressing the needs of the people who live in this country,” Atkinson said. “DACA and DAPA were never intended to be permanent solutions to the fact that 11 million people in this country lack legal immigration status and most have no practical way of rectifying that. Only Congress can make the necessary changes to our immigration system, ensuring that millions of families have a path to legal residency and eventually citizenship in their adopted country. We need meaningful legislative reform and we need it now.”
Immigrant legal services organizations nationwide, including nearly 300 who are affiliated with CLINIC, will continue to assist immigrants with evaluating whether they are eligible for DACA and whether they have other paths to remaining legally in this country.

Ignatian Solidarity Network

The most disappointing result of  the 4-4 tie in the Supreme Court on DAPA and the DACA-extension, is the tremendous setback for immigrants and their families. While many pundits and politicians will play on the politics of this decision, it is important to remember that at its core it is an issue of people — their families, their dignity, their lives. We can never forget this fact as we walk with our brothers and sisters.”

We continue to stand with the United States Catholic Bishops, the U.S. Jesuit Provincials, and many other Catholic partners in asking for immigration policies that: create a process for undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship; keeps families together; and respects the rights of workers; protects those most vulnerable, especially women and children.

Further, we call on Congress to oppose legislation that devalues immigrants and the contributions they make to our communities and economy including: opposing bills proposing the elimination of funding for sanctuary cities and other welcoming programs; ending programs and protocols such as Operation Streamline, the detention bed mandate, and family detention; and protecting and upholding DACA as we wait for legislative solutions to our broken immigration system.

We also call on the Obama administration to refrain from the use of immigration raids and deportations that marginalize families and immigrant communities.

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