Catholic bishops, agencies criticize Trump decision on global compact

In his statement, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, who is chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, said that Catholic social teaching on migration “recognizes and respects the sovereignty of each nation, indeed each nation’s right and responsibility, to ultimately decide how it will regulate migration into its territory.”

“The church has long articulated that it is the obligation of nations to assure human rights for all migrants and special protections for vulnerable migrants, such as refugees, forced migrants, victims of human trafficking, and women and children at risk,” Bishop Vasquez said.

“Pope Francis has described such obligations as part of building ‘global solidarity’ on behalf of migrants and refugees. In fact, the bishops continue to promote the international campaign initiated by Pope Francis, “Share the Journey,” as a sign of solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters,” the bishop added.

Bill O’Keefe, CRS’ vice president for government relations and advocacy, said the U.S. withdrawal from the migration compact process “does not reflect the values of the American people who want governments to uphold the rights and dignity of migrants, as well as solve the complex problems that force people to migrate in the first place.”

“Fixing the broken global system for managing migration would protect innocent families, reduce human trafficking, and ultimately allow people to choose to stay where they are,” O’Keefe said in a statement.

The U.N. 2016 declaration calls on sovereign nations to cooperate to minimize harms — including exploitation and physical violence — carried out against those vulnerable migrants who flee.

Citing the United Nations, CRS, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency, said that governments and civic leaders have been discussing the content of the final 2018 global compact, so that, “migration, like other areas of international relations, will be guided by a set of common principles and approaches.”

In his statement, O’Keefe said the United States “should lead the world to address the needs and problems of migrants in ways that are orderly, fair and compassionate.” He also said a global compact on migration is “an important step to stem human trafficking.”

“It also would address other forms of exploitation, while addressing the root causes of migration, helping people find the security and opportunity that they need to stay home as almost all of them want to do,” he added.