National News

Bishop Blasts Militarization Of Border

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, Calif., May 11. (Photo: Catholic News Service/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Denouncing the “demonization of migrants,” hateful rhetoric, the militarization of the border and a system that divides families, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, called on Catholics to heed the Church’s teachings to welcome the migrant.

In a pastoral letter “Sorrow and Mourning Flee Away,” on migration and addressed to the “People of God in the Diocese of El Paso,” Bishop Seitz, who serves a border community near Mexico, said the country’s security cannot be used as a “pretext to build walls and shut the door to migrants and refugees.”

“God did not create a world lacking room for all at the banquet of life,” he wrote.

He said that while some might question his reflections, “I am not substituting politics for the teaching of the church,” but as a pastor, his “duty is to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he wrote. And the Gospel in the Old Testament is clear, he said: “You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you.”

Bishop Seitz also criticized a system that “permits some to detain human beings for profit,” while eroding the country’s “historic commitment to the refugee and asylum seeker.”

He shared personal anecdotes. One involves a teenager named Aura from Honduras who decided to make the trip north to escape extreme poverty and violence. She was caught by immigration authorities and ended up in a detention center in El Paso but not before experiencing “serious physical and psychological wounds.”

She left Honduras because she had been enslaved by a gang and then ended up being treated like a criminal as she sought refuge in the U.S.