By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic organizations expressed distress and unease with President Donald J. Trump’s actions related to immigration while pledging to continue serving and supporting migrant people.
The reactions came within hours of Trump’s signing of executive memorandums on national security Jan. 25 during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security. The memorandums authorized the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and directed John F. Kelly, secretary of homeland security, to look at how federal funding streams can be cut for cities and states that illegally harbor those in the country without legal permission.
Agencies cited the words of Pope Francis in criticizing the president’s actions and pledged to support and serve migrants in the United States.
“Pope Francis has urged people not to close the door on migrants and refugees,” Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, said in a statement. “In concert with the Holy Father, we believe we must move from attitudes of defensiveness and fear to acceptance, compassion and encounter.
“As the U.S. Catholic bishops have said, this is not an either/or situation for us,” Sister Donna added. We can protect our citizens and, at the same time, we can welcome newcomers. Our commitment to care for those who are most vulnerable resides at the core of our faith.”
Catholic Charities USA also will continue to work for comprehensive immigration reform, Sister Donna said.
The PICO National Network, the largest network of congregations and faith-based groups in the country, including Catholics, challenged the executive memorandum on sanctuary cities.
“Retaliating against local communities because they refuse to follow immoral policies is part of an emerging pattern of President Trump of not only bullying people who dare to disagree with him, but isolating and further marginalizing people who are different than him,” said Eddie Carmona, campaign director for PICO National Network’s LA RED campaign. “Such behavior is inconsistent with the long-held notion that America was a place of opportunity for all.”
Sister Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service and executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobbying organization, called the presidential orders “antithetical to our faith.”
“When Nuns on the Bus visited the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014, we walked along the wall and listened to the stories of communities that have been torn apart for decades. That is the reality experienced by border communities: The wall is there and it affects the daily life and commerce of the people.
“Federal appropriations for border security have grown to $3.8 billion in FY2015, from $263 million in FY1990, and fencing exists for hundreds of miles along our southern border,” she said in a statement.