El Paso bishop: Stop deportations until immigration is fixed

Posted on 30. Jul, 2017 by in Immigration

From America 20170718T1218-0026-CNS-MIGRANTS-BORDER-BISHOPMagazine –

The bishop whose diocese sits on the stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border visited by Pope Francis last year is urging Catholics and elected officials to take action against “a dark night of fear and uncertainty” facing undocumented migrants currently living there.

“Our border community knows the reality of a broken immigration system,” Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso writes in “Sorrow and Mourning Flee Away,” a pastoral letter published on July 18. In it, he condemns “the militarization of our border” and he calls for a “moratorium on the deportation of non-violent immigrants” until comprehensive immigration reform is enacted.

Bishop Seitz also announced the creation of a scholarship program for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, known as Dreamers, to attend Catholic schools, and he announced that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol officers would not be allowed on diocesan property without a warrant.

The letter, which the bishop describes as “just the beginning of a deeper solidarity with the poor and excluded,” comes as Texas prepares to implement a new law aimed at dismantling so-called sanctuary cities as the Trump administration moves forward with plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In May, Catholic bishops vowed to continue fighting many Trump-backed immigration policies, and the mandate for a temporary working group of bishops focused on migration was renewed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and archbishop of Galveston-Houston.

Bishop Seitz told America he wrote the letter because immigration is “a topic that is on the minds of many in our country. Sometimes it feels like the narrative of those who say that immigration is the cause of every problem in our country and that the border is a fearful place seems to be winning out.”

In reality, he writes in his pastoral letter, the border is “beautiful, rich in history and culture, faith and natural wonder.”

“This is a place where people of many cultures, languages and nationalities coexist and thrive,” Bishop Seitz said. “I ask lawmakers and policymakers in other parts of the country to end the demonization of our border, our border residents and migrants.”

He said that people living in his diocese tell him that fear among immigrant communities living on the border is on the rise.

Discussing the plight of contemporary undocumented immigrants, he said, “They’re afraid every time they leave home, even to come to church sometimes.

“I was approached by a number of teachers, not only from our area but beyond, asking for advice: What do I tell my children who come to school crying, fearful that their parents won’t be there when I return from school? They said that they’re even seeing kids having panic attacks and things like that.”

“It’s a very real fear,” he added.

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