(CNS) — The U.S. bishops “cannot, in good faith, endorse” an immigration bill
submitted by the House’s Republican leadership, said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of
Austin, Texas, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration.
Bishop Vasquez said the bill would
bring about “large structural changes to the immigration system that
detrimentally impact families and the vulnerable.” He said
the new bill, still without a name or number, “contains several provisions that
run contrary to our Catholic social teaching.”
He made the comments in a letter dated June 18 and sent to each member of the House. It was posted
June 19 on the U.S. bishops’ website justiceforimmigrants.org.
Vasquez said this unnamed bill would “undermine asylum protections by significantly raising
the hurdle applicants face during the ‘credible fear’ review, lead to increases
in child and family detention ‘ eliminate protection for unaccompanied minors
through the proposed changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection
Reauthorization Act, includes part of the DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood
Arrivals)-eligible population but does not include same population eligible in
the USA Act and the DREAM Act, make sweeping cuts to family-based immigration
and unilaterally implement a safe third country agreement without a bilateral
or multilateral treaty or agreement.”
would the bill “end the practice of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico
border, he added. “Instead, this bill would increase the number of children and
families in detention, which is not acceptable.” Bishop Vasquez reminded House
members the Trump administration can end its family separation policy, without the
need for legislation, at its own discretion.
Vasquez added, “We believe that any such legislation must be bipartisan,
provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship, be pro-family, protect the
vulnerable and be respectful of human dignity with regard to border security
The Uniting and Securing
America Act (USA) Act, which he referenced in the letter, would protect Dreamers and strengthens border security. The
DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which he also mentioned, primarily would
offer a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other Dreamers.
letter, Bishop Vasquez reminded House members the Trump administration can end its
family separation policy without the need for legislation through its own discretion,
and that an immigration bill could secure the U.S. border and ensure humane
treatment to immigrant families through alternative policies.
the newness of the bill, “we ask for timely consideration of our concerns,” Bishop
Vasquez said, “particularly the cuts to family-based immigration, as well as
the harmful changes to the asylum system and existing protections for
unaccompanied children. Without such changes to these measures, we would be
compelled to oppose it.”
Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, has pledged to bring both the new bill and H.R. 4760,
the Securing America’s Future Act, to the House floor for votes. Bishop Vasquez,
in January, wrote to the House opposing H.R. 4760. In the June 18 letter, he
said, “we respectfully urge you to reject” it.
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Editor’s Note: The full text of the letter can be found at https://bit.ly/2I3gDFf.
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