BY ISN STAFF | June 25, 2018

In response to President Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” policy causing increased family separation on the border and last week’s executive order, numerous institutions and organizations in the Jesuit network have released statements denouncing the unjust treatment of migrant families and asylum seekers.

On Thursday, June 21, Loyola University Chicago’s Center for the Human Rights of Children, the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology, Kino Border Initiative, the Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities, and 11 Jesuit law schools released a statement opposing the Trump administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy, which increases the criminalization of migration and the separation of families at the U.S. Mexico border. The statement also addresses the recent executive order, which, rather than solving the family separation crisis mandates that migrant families be held in detention. Finally, the statement condemns the U.S. government’s lack of compliance with international and U.S. law in processing fear-based asylum claims at U.S. ports of entry in a timely manner.

“These policies and practices are morally repugnant, violate the rights of asylum seekers as well as children and families, and create permanent harm to the spirit, health and well-being of vulnerable individuals and families,” reads the statement.

Marking the 2018 World Refugee Day, June 20, Michael Sheeran, S.J., president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, released a personal statement on the issue:  “This year, World Refugee Day falls in the midst of the human rights crisis on the U.S. southern border, where people of all ages are being denied refuge and torn apart from their families. More than ever, we must not forget our moral responsibility and imperative to serve the neediest among us, and love our neighbor. We condemn the separation of families and urge for their immediate protection.”

As of publication, ten Jesuit colleges and universities have released individual statements denouncing the separation of families and unjust treatment of migrants at the U.S. southern border.

“I am personally appalled at the use of children for the sake of achieving political goals,” wrote Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president of College of the Holy Cross. “Even as we enforce laws, we must do so in a humane way, one which recognizes the human dignity inherent in every person, particularly those who are most vulnerable.”

Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University wrote that “as a Jesuit, Catholic University, we are committed to the care of, and compassion for, the most vulnerable members of society, regardless of their race, religion, citizenship, or national origin.” He went on to that that, “while we cannot cure all the suffering in the world, our collective conscience calls upon us to do whatever we can to bring to an end the miseries inflicted upon vulnerable, desperate children and their families through these despicable actions.

“The rampant violence in Central America forcing families to flee their homes to save their lives is now being cruelly compounded by the zero-tolerance policy that seeks to turn back those who seek asylum in the U.S. by taking children from their parents,” said Regis University president Rev. John P. Fitzgibbons, S.J.

“The separation of children from their parents at our southern U.S. border must end now,” Fr.  Fitzgibbons continued. “They do not represent a threat to our borders or our national sovereignty. This abuse of distressed children is simply immoral.”

A full and updated list of responses from the Jesuit colleges and universities, as well as other Jesuit organizations, compiled by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, can be found here.

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