The following statement was issued by the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States and Jesuit Refugee Service/USA on April 23, 2020, in response to an Executive Order that places a 60-day halt on immigration.
Jesuit Institutions Call for Respecting Dignity and Rights of Migrants and Refugees in Response to New Executive Order
The U.S. Administration announced a new Executive Order that places a 60-day halt on immigration, impacting many individuals seeking permanent resident status in the United States. Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology oppose this Executive Order and other policies which disrupt our immigration system and have left many unsafe or vulnerable.
Entitled “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak,” this Executive Order was announced as part of the Administration’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While refugees and asylum seekers are exempt from the Order, some refugees that have already gained citizenship and seek to reunify with their family members through the family immigration system will be unable to do so.
Effective April 23, the Executive Order is the latest in a series of efforts by the Administration to limit the entry of foreign nationals into the United States, beginning in early 2017 with the first travel ban and most recently with the suspension of asylum in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. JRS/USA and the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology express deep disappointment in each of these efforts, as they chip away at the ability of individuals to seek protection and a better life for themselves and their families.
“Immigrants are the backbone of our country and, as Catholics, we are taught that the equality of all people and a commitment to the common good prevail above all else,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director of JRS/USA. “Ensuring public health and protecting and welcoming our brothers and sisters are not mutually exclusive. We can do both.”
While these are challenging and uncertain times, the U.S. is not alone in tackling this global pandemic. Rather, we must work across borders to find solutions and stay true to our core beliefs as a nation by offering opportunity and welcome. Decisions made in response to these challenges must be governed by concern for all people and by mercy and justice, not fear and discrimination.