The issue of immigration reform has caught the attention of our country because of the unfortunate practice of separating children from their parents as they approach the border. Some of the people are seeking asylum or a safe haven escaping difficult situations in their home countries, especially violence and oppression. Others come seeking to improve their economic condition fleeing a life of poverty.
Since The Tablet did not publish an issue last weekend, the letters to the editor have been piling up on my desk. Most of them have dealt with one subject – the separation of families at the border between the United States and Mexico as we struggle with an influx of peoples wanting to enter the U.S.
Bishop Joe Vásquez, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, has joined over 50 leading law enforcement officers, faith leaders, national security officials, and business professionals in an Independence Day statement calling for greater treatment and welcome of immigrants and refugees to America.
“We are a nation of laws, and we are also a nation of compassion.” That was the mantra of an early July visit by a delegation of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the epicenter of the immigration crisis, the Brownsville-McAllen area in Texas, right on the Mexico border.
While the separation of families is the issue on the front cover of the newspapers, there is another drama taking place in theses towns near the border. For many years, people on both sides of the border formed a large interconnected community. Close to 85 percent of the McAllen population is Hispanic and there are many families that have lived here for decades without proper documents.
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.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced the conference will explore the idea of sending a bishops’ delegation to the U.S.-Mexico border to inspect detention facilities and offer a sign of solidarity with migrants and refugees.
The U.S. bishops June 13 decried U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision that asylum seekers fleeing domestic or gang violence cannot find protection in the United States.
On the very day that President Donald Trump’s deadline for Congress to act on DACA was set to expire, Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, told congressional leaders that Dreamers had “renewed everyone’s faith in the American dream” and it was time for lawmakers to find a permanent solution to protect them.
The problem with a weekly newspaper is that interesting stories can break as the paper is going to press and there is no time to get it into that week’s paper. In this new age of cyberspace, however, we can post those stories on our web and Facebook pages to keep our readers up-to-date.