Catholic Bishops, Kino Border Initiative Release Statements in Support of Protection of Human Dignity

BY ISN Staff | January 26, 2017


President Donald J. Trump yesterday issued an executive order to construct a wall at the U.S./Mexico border, to significantly increase immigrant detention and deportation, and to disregard the judgment of state and local law enforcement on how best to protect their communities.

The U.S./Mexico border, spanning approximately 2000 miles, already has roughly 700 miles of fencing and barrier that was constructed under the George W. Bush administration. In response to the decision to build a wall on the U.S./Mexico border, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement from Bishop Joe Vasquez, Chair of the Committee of Migration and Bishop of the Diocese of Austin:

“I am disheartened that the President has prioritized building a wall on our border with Mexico. This action will put immigrant lives needlessly in harm’s way. Construction of such a wall will only make migrants, especially vulnerable women and children, more susceptible to traffickers and smugglers. Additionally, the construction of such a wall destabilizes the many vibrant and beautifully interconnected communities that live peacefully along the border. Instead of building walls, at this time, my brother bishops and I will continue to follow the example of Pope Francis. We will ‘look to build bridges between people, bridges that allow us to break down the walls of exclusion and exploitation.’”

The Kino Border Initiative (KBI), binational ministry co-sponsored by the Jesuits on the U.S./Mexico border, also released a statement affirming commitment to work toward “binational solidarity and humane, just, and workable migration policies.”

KBI has expressed deep concern about plans to dramatically expand border enforcement, including the addition of 5,000 border agents:

“Every day we receive our brothers and sisters who are deported to Nogales, Sonora and we witness firsthand the suffering caused by dramatic increases in border policing. In our 2015 report, Our Values on the Line, we found that one third of people surveyed have been subject to degrading treatment or abuse when detained by US Border Patrol. We have continued to see similar patterns and in the past 14 months have filed 45 complaints on behalf of migrants who report abuse to us. Dramatically and hastily expanding this agency without adequate training and accountability will only make the situation worse, not promote safety.”

KBI also stresses the urgency of the US responsibility to protect individuals fleeing violence, citing challenges faced by those seeking asylum, including rejection by Customs and Border Protection officials, harsh and unnecessarily prolonged detention, and lack of access to due process in pursuing legal claims. “Instead,” asserts KBI in their statement, “our moral and religious principles urge us to welcome people seeking protection.”

In the USCCB’s statement, Bishop Vasquez affirms that the Church “will continue to support and stand in solidarity with immigrant families. We remind our communities and our nation that these families have intrinsic value as children of God. And to all those impacted by today’s decision, we are here to walk with you and accompany you on this journey.”

Watch this video, produced by Kino Border Initiative, telling the story of Guatemalan woman who was recently at KBI’s shelter:

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