United States: Bishops Call for an End to the Expulsion of Illegal Immigrants

The Episcopal Conference of the United States recently asked the government to end deportation raids of Central American families without valid documents.

The Committee for Migration of the Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) have expressed “great concern” for the detention and deportation of 121 Central Americans – primarily mothers with children.

The organisations voiced their concerns in a letter to Jeh Johnson, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. The letter was signed by the Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle, His Excellency Monsignor Eusebio Elizondo, and the Bishop of Orange in California, His Excellency Monsignor Kevin W. Vann. The Bishops bring attention to the fact that in the first weekend of this year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) arrested 121 illegal immigrants – primarily in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina – to expel them from the country. “We find such targeting of immigrant women and children to be inhumane and a grave misuse of limited enforcement resources”, the letter reads.

President Barack Obama said in November 2014 that his administration would pursue the deportation of felons, not families; criminals, not children; gang members, not mothers “who work hard to provide for their children”. The DHS’s actions, however, are in contrast with the President’s words. To exacerbate the problem, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has noticed a sharp increase in the flow of illegal immigrants from the southern border.

For several months already, the Catholic Bishops have been calling on the government to end the “harmful practice of detention of women and children” and called on Congress to support “humanitarian efforts in the region, which will help to eliminate the violence and stop situations that force people to flee their homes”. In addition, a group of 146 House Democrats in Congress have asked the Obama administration to stop the deportation of Central Americans fleeing conflict and to consider them refugees.