Catholics oppose Trump actions on border wall, sanctuary communities

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Luis Gonzalez, Reuters


(CNS) — Catholic organizations expressed distress and unease with President
Donald J. Trump’s actions related to immigration while pledging to continue
serving and supporting migrant people.

reactions came within hours of Trump’s signing of executive memorandums on
national security Jan. 25 during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security.
The memorandums authorized the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico
border and directed John F. Kelly, secretary of homeland security, to look at how federal funding streams
can be cut for cities and states that illegally harbor those in the country without legal permission.

Agencies cited the words of Pope
Francis in criticizing the president’s actions and pledged to support and serve
migrants in the United States.

“Pope Francis has urged
people not to close the door on migrants and refugees,” Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president
and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, said in a statement. “In concert with
the Holy Father, we believe we must move from attitudes of defensiveness and
fear to acceptance, compassion and encounter.

the U.S. Catholic bishops have said, this is not an either/or situation for
us,” Sister Donna added. We can protect our citizens and, at the same
time, we can welcome newcomers. Our commitment to care for those who are most
vulnerable resides at the core of our faith.”

Charities USA also will continue to work for comprehensive immigration reform,
Sister Donna said.

The PICO National Network, the
largest network of congregations and faith-based groups in the country,
including Catholics, challenged the executive memorandum on sanctuary cities.

“Retaliating against local
communities because they refuse to follow immoral policies is part of an
emerging pattern of President Trump of not only bullying people who dare to
disagree with him, but isolating and further marginalizing people who are
different than him,” said Eddie Carmona, campaign director for PICO National
Network’s LA RED campaign. “Such behavior is inconsistent with the
long-held notion that America was a place of opportunity for all.”

Sister Simone Campbell, a Sister
of Social Service and executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice
lobbying organization, called the presidential orders “antithetical to our

“When Nuns on the Bus
visited the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014, we walked along the wall and listened
to the stories of communities that have been torn apart for decades. That is
the reality experienced by border communities: The wall is there and it affects
the daily life and commerce of the people.

“Federal appropriations for
border security have grown to $3.8 billion in FY2015, from $263 million in
FY1990, and fencing exists for hundreds of miles along our southern
border,” she said in a statement.

The Washington-based
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach recalled Pope Francis’ words at the
close of the Year of Mercy that concluded in November in which he decried a
global “epidemic of animosity and violence” toward strangers, immigrants
and refugees who often are considered a threat.

Trump’s signings “presents false
and inhumane responses” to the harsh reality of poverty, violence and
conflict that cause people to migrate, the center said in a statement.

people of faith, we are called to both address the root causes of migration and
seek policies of welcome toward our migrant sisters and brothers. We stand
against any policies that seek to build a wall, inhumanely detain women and
families, end sanctuary cities, conduct immigration raids, limit migration
based on a person’s country of origin and further militarize the border,”
the statement added.

Christi USA sided with “our immigrant brothers and sisters living in fear
of deportation and separation from their families.”

one flees their countries of origin on a whim,” a statement from the Catholic
peace organization said. “We honor the multiplicity of reasons people
migrate to the United States, many of which are poverty, gang violence and
terror. People are not the enemy, but that is the myth we are being told by
President Trump. Building a wall is the visual symbol of these political

Franciscan Action Network expressed concern that the country would be turning
its back on refugees after Trump’s actions.

Gospels call us to welcome the stranger, so as people of faith we advocate and
support the rights and dignity of all people,” Patrick Carolan, the Franciscan network’s executive director, said in a statement. “The United States was built by
immigrants and we must continue to protect our immigrant and refugee sisters
and brothers and keep families together.”

U.S. cannot be blinded to the despair of migrants and refugees, including those
from Syria and different faith traditions, said Gerry Lee, executive director
of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns.

Francis proclaimed that ‘refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity.
They are children, women, and men who leave or who are forced to leave their
homes … the flesh of Christ is in the flesh of the refugees.’ The faithful
response is not to build a wall or to discriminate against Muslims, but to open
our hearts and our homes to refugees of all faiths in recognition of our sacred
call to protect and nourish life. If we refuse to welcome refugees in urgent
need, we risk becoming like those we claim to deplore,” Lee said.

churches, faith-based advocacy groups and interfaith programs joined the Catholic
groups in criticizing the administration’s plans. Among them were Alliance of
Baptists, American Jewish World Service, Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America, Interfaith Alliance, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Muslim
Public Affairs Council, National Association of Evangelicals, National Council
of Churches, National Council of Jewish Women, Presbyterian Church (USA),
Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ and United
Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society.

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