U.S. bishops hold National Migration Week amid migrant crisis
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 16, 2022 / 16:25 pm
The U.S. bishops are inviting Catholics to participate in National Migration Week and the World Day of Migrants and Refugees by encountering “those living on the existential peripheries.”
The week, beginning on Sept. 19, presents an opportunity to reflect on the circumstances of migrants, refugees, victims of human trafficking, and others, according to the bishops. The seven days conclude on Sept. 25, the Vatican’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR).
The bishops’ announcement comes as Republican governors are transporting migrants to northern states in response to the border crisis. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently took credit for flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts while Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey have bused thousands to cities like Washington, D.C., New York, and Chicago.
“The Biden-Harris Administration continues ignoring and denying the historic crisis at our southern border, which has endangered and overwhelmed Texas communities for almost two years,” said Abbott said in a press release Thursday, after transporting migrants to Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, DeSantis’ communications director, Taryn Fenske, shared the governor’s position with Fox News Digital.
“States like Massachusetts, New York and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden administration’s open border policies,” Fenske said.
In Providence, Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin tweeted on Friday that every human person, from the baby in the womb to the migrants in Massachusetts, should be treated with dignity.
“The baby in the womb, the refugee in Cape Cod – neither should be exploited for political points,” he typed. “Both are children of God. Both should be respected, welcomed and cared for. Can’t we as a society agree on that?”
Ahead of National Migration Week, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) called reports of the state’s involvement in transporting migrants to Martha’s Vineyard “disconcerting.”
“Any action to transport persons under false pretenses and leave them stranded with no assistance, if this proves to be the case, fails to respect their human dignity and objectifies them,” the group said in a statement to CNA. “Immigration is not just a political issue, but a fundamental human and moral issue.”
“For immigrants are not faceless numbers – but human persons,” the statement adds. “They are our brothers and sisters.”
The FCCB called the country’s broken immigration system a problem, rather than immigrants.
“While reasonable people may disagree on how our nation should respond, any effective response demands that we recognize that immigration is more than a ‘border security’ issue but is essentially about our labor markets and the men and women who fill the jobs that continue to make America strong,” the statement reads. “Justice and prudence demand that we treat them with dignity and find a reasonable way for their contributions and presence to be recognized within the law.”
Serving as executive director for the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, Jennifer Allmon also commented on the “politicization of the life and dignity of migrants.”
“Our nation’s unwillingness to address the broken immigration system over these past several years rests squarely on citizens and politicians of both major political parties,” she told CNA in a statement. “This polarization has brought us to a moment of crisis; there exists a legitimate concern that without each level of government discharging their respective responsibilities, the common good of the communities of our towns, state, and nation, and immigrants themselves, will continue to suffer grievously.”
She recognized “an urgent need for legitimate and moral reform of our system of immigration and asylum.”
“The experience of our Catholic Charities and outreach ministries throughout Texas has taught us that refugees are adding to the quality of life throughout the state with their cultures and talents and the gainful employment that prevents them from being added to the poverty rolls,” Allmon said.
“Nevertheless, it is vital now that all levels of government make responsible plans to avoid a rush of people flooding our border that could jeopardize the just rule of law and the capacity of governmental and nongovernmental efforts to assist migrants, refugees, and the residential and native poor who are already here among us.”
The U.S. Catholic Church has observed National Migration Week since 1980, while the WDMR began in 1914.
“There has never been a more critical moment to reflect on the issue of migration, as we witness, for the first time in history, over 100 million forcibly displaced persons in the world,” Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, the auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, said in a statement.
Dorsonville went on to list several groups that Catholics should keep in mind.
“I am especially mindful of Dreamers, our new Afghan neighbors, Ukrainians fleeing conflict in their homeland, those with temporary protections who have made a home in the United States, and undocumented agricultural workers, all of whom have an important role to play in building the future of our country—just as they have a role in building the Kingdom of God,” Dorsonville added.
He concluded: “May this week help us to experience a renewed sense of what it means to live as brothers and sisters, traveling together on the same journey.”