BY ISN STAFF | January 29, 2021

With a letter to President Biden and a Framework for Action & Reform, Catholic bishops and border faith leaders have called on the new president to re-imagine immigration, beginning at the border.

Bishops from every state along the U.S.-Mexico border, together with the Kino Border Initiative, HOPE Border Institute, Sister Norma Pimentel, Catholic Charities agencies at the border, and women and men religious have called upon President Biden to work to restore asylum at the border. 

Catholic leaders, Biden, border

The U.S.-Mexico border wall at the border of Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, CA. The crosses represent migrants who died in the crossing attempt. © Tomas Castelazo, www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons

“Your bold proposals and action on immigration reform give us hope,” reads the letter. “We know that the critical work of rebuilding must also begin at the border, where our national bonds of solidarity and the rule of law have both been distorted and undermined. Here we have seen how fear and anxiety can be quickened into deadly hatred of neighbor, into weapons of division and racism and into wall-building between family and friends.”

They further call upon the Biden Administration to listen to people on the move at the U.S.-Mexico border in order to radically reform and rebuild U.S. immigration policy from the ground up, with the needs and aspirations of migrants, asylum seekers, and border communities at the center of the debate.

“The transformational change needed by migrants and our border communities will require deep listening to those who have been affected, and commitment to shared efforts to construct a common future,” they wrote. “We must urgently begin a new process of mutual engagement that allows us to rediscover as sisters and brothers those whose dreams have been shattered by broken immigration policy. We must re-learn to see those who continue to flee to the border as neighbors in need.”

Catholic bishop Mark Seitz at the US-Mexico border wall

Bishop Mark Seitz (Diocese of El Paso) speaks during a prayer vigil at the U.S.-Mexico border wall hosted by the Tex-Mex bishops and national faith leaders in February 2019.

The Catholic border faith leaders include: Bishop Mark J. Seitz, Archbishop John Wester, Bishop Robert McElroy, Bishop Edward Weisenburger, Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, Kino Border Initiative, Hope Border Institute, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Border Ministers, the Columban Center for Advocacy & Outreach, Jesuit Refugee Service USA, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico, and Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services.

Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute, said that “as a group of Catholic leaders and bishops on the U.S.-Mexico border, we are ready to get to work immediately with President Biden on the important task of restoring asylum at the border now. We are also here to engage the new president as a person of faith in a transformative process of listening to the voices of those most impacted in order to truly rebuild a system that honors the dignity of people on the move.”

Read the full letter to President Biden.
Read the Framework for Action and Reform at the Border

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