Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Washington DC

Catholics mobilize at border and around U.S. to help separated families

By CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE | Published July 5, 2018

WASHINGTON (CNS)—Some have taken their indignation all the way to the border between the U.S. and Mexico, while others have taken action closer to home, protesting while accompanied by their children and fellow parishioners in cities and towns across the U.S.

Others are volunteering their services to counsel or visit immigrant children separated from a parent or are publicly advocating against the practice.

From coast to coast, Catholics, including cardinals, bishops, women and men religious, priests and laity, and many sisters from an array of religious orders, and the organizations they staff or support, have been among some of the most public and vociferous voices around the country in defense of immigrants. That defense has gone into overdrive in efforts to reunite migrant families and to call for their humane treatment.

“Some of these episodes are right down inhumane, unbiblical and un-American,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan before a crowd of reporters in New York City during a June 28 news conference aired on Facebook by CBS New York. “I’d like to think that America has just experienced a wake-up call. That we’re getting a little bit away from our roots, of a posture of welcome and hospitality and embrace to the immigrant.”

Though the Trump administration said it would temporarily stop separating children from their parents at the border, Catholics advocating for the migrants worry about the administration’s imminent plans to detain the children and their family members at camps on military bases in Texas.

On June 28, the U.S. Department of Defense released a statement saying it had received a request “to house and care for an alien family population of up to 12,000 people” for the Department of Homeland Security, which deals with immigration detention, since it oversees U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The request, it said, was for “soft-sided camp facilities capable of sheltering up to 4,000 people at three separate locations” in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico or California.

Some of the children who already have been separated have ended up in places such as New York, with foster parents or in shelters, where organizations such as Catholic Charities are providing legal support to try to reunite them with family, or to provide emotional comfort while awaiting to be reconnected with family.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director for Catholic Charities New York, who was present with Cardinal Dolan at the news conference, said the organization was trying to help families deal with the tragedy of the separation and trying to reassure the children experiencing difficulties as a result of the events, while also making sure they receive medical attention they might need.

“They had a plan when they came to the United States: to be with their parents. They’ve been taken away from their parents,” he said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has repeatedly asked Catholics to contact their representatives to back issues that the church supports, and that includes a stance against abortion as a pro-life issue, but also immigration as a pro-life issue.