Catholic Charities of Onondaga County released the following statement Jan. 27:
Since 1923, Catholic Charities of Onondaga County has been committed to working for the benefit of the most vulnerable members of our community. We are dedicated to the idea that all human life is of infinite value. We serve people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, or any other consideration.
We are deeply troubled by the proposed Executive Orders on immigration and refugee resettlement policies. Catholic Charities’ expertise and history of welcoming and integrating newcomers to the United States gives us deep familiarity with their needs and contributions. The Executive Orders cause us concern, mostly because they put forward an attitude and approach that first views immigrants as a threat and liability. We view immigrants as an opportunity and asset.
Locally, Catholic Charities has worked with New Americans for decades. We are familiar with the struggles of immigrants as well as being well-versed in their countless contributions. Syracuse is a city with a proud immigrant history that includes the Irish, Polish, Greek, Germans, Italians, Ukranians, and many more. The integration of 21st century immigrants and refugees is a continuation of that history.
According to Executive Director, Mike Melara, “There are over 200 refugees that are currently in the queue to come to Syracuse. They have endured years of persecution and, in some cases, torture, only to find their hopes of freedom dashed by the stoke of a pen. This is a human tragedy.” While the new administration wants to take 120 days to suspend all resettlements so it can examine the refugee vetting process, Melara contends that this information is readily available. “The process for vetting refugees is rigorous and well documented.”
Catholic Charities reaffirms its solidarity with immigrants and refugees who come to this nation to make a better life for themselves, their families, and their neighbors. This is particularly important in times of uncertainty and anxiety. According to Melara, “Our best hope is that our government leaders will be touched by ‘the better angels of their nature’ as we continue our efforts to welcome those who are fleeing persecution and, in many cases, fearing for their lives.”