Friday, June 16, 2017

Bishops Speak Out on Trump's Policies Against Immigrants and Refugees

                          By Monica     LCW  Columbus, Ohio

         We want the world to know, since views come from so many countries, that our Ohio Catholic Bishops, in one voice, raised concern for the policies put into place by President Trump against immigrants and refugees.   We are soo proud of our Roman Catholic bishops right here in little old Ohio, USA!  We are thankful to God too, who looks out for the widow and the orphan, the stranger, and the least.  Jesus repeatedly spoke out and warned all about protecting the most vulnerable and lowliest who have no rights and no one to speak for them.  The actual statement of our Ohio bishops cut and pasted from their website is below my comments.
       We are a nation of immigrants too!  Our very ancestors were in this position and our lives would be very different now, most likely much worse, if they had not been welcome.  Many of us are descended from immigrants who more often than not came freely for a better life and were at least allowed entry - with the exception of our Native American citizens who were here first, and our African Americans brought here and forced, against their will, into slavery.
       One would think that we would have a deep appreciation and gratitude instead of condemnation and mistreatment, ripping families apart after they have already worked painstakingly to make a new life here like our ancestors, contributing greatly to society.

      It is neglectful for me not to have spoken out before now, not only from
my strong social justice roots of being a Roman Catholic (with our amazing social justice papal encyclicals, teachings from our U.S. Catholic Bishops, pastoral letters, etc), of being a staunch Catholic Worker which stands for Christ's peace always and justice for the poor, but mainly there is no excuse because I have seen firsthand the terror in my families of mainly Hispanic and Muslim descent that make up the majority of my ESL students (I am an English as a Second Language teacher in a public school).

      I have Muslim students and families who feel the hate and mistrust, even though they have done nothing wrong and never will.  They often asked me in my school year questions like, "Why does President Trump hate us?" or "What else will he do to us?" and "Is it going to get worse?" I had no answer to give.
      My Hispanic families in general are the most scared ones because people have already been rounded up to be sent back, even after having worked hard here for years.  They are terrified every day and their whole family cries a lot and try to make plans in various scenarios.  My little Third Grader Pedro said his family is moving back to Mexico even though there is not enough work right now.
     In the case of the "Chaldean Catholics" that are being rounded up and sent back to Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries, their very lives are at stake, in addition to Syrian Muslims and others.  My father remembers seeing on the news huge ships and yachts from Germany with Jewish people lining the edges, coming into New York harbor or another U.S. port with hands clasped begging and pleading to be allowed entry, only to be turned around and sent back to their deaths.  Hitler was known to say, "You say we are being hard but you don't want the Jewish rats either."
      I tried to calm my students fears, but what assurances could I give?  I am silently appalled at the lack of basic humanity in our newer laws and actions against immigrants -- and even refugees -- the whole dark mentality.  One would wonder of a change of heart would take place if the lawmakers themselves were thrust into this situation, since they lack the empathy to imagine it.
     It reminds me of how Hitler, little by little over a period of time, imposed difficult and bigoted  burdens, heavy to carry, upon Jewish people for years before finally rounding up this ethnic group for horrific purposes.  At the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.  I was horrified with the MANY laws and prejudices that were acceptable to the German people against the Jewish population, incrementally worsening all the time.  First, they were not allowed to travel (sounds familiar), then ride or own bikes, then be out past a certain time in the evening, then they could not live where they wanted but were rounded up into "ghettos," etc, etc.  As their rights were infringed upon more and more, very few stepped up to fight these laws on their behalf.
     While I believe that President Trump would never agree to create work/death camps, given his verbal defense of our unborn citizens and abortion-mill laws changing one day -- which is important from our president -- he needs to end the terrible laws against refugees and immigrants, as well as slurs against entire populations of Americans.
       If you look up Boston and New York City news headlines and history in the 1800's and early 1900's you view quite an outcry against Roman Catholic Irish, Polish, and German immigrants taking over their cities, taking all their jobs, bringing their Catholic religion, being a menace to society with their heavy drinking and brawling, etc, etc,.. Obviously most of those European immigrants more often than not as a whole did not exude these negative stereotypes, but there were enough of those few to always get into the headlines, creating prejudice and bigotry in weaker minds and souls, as in Hitler's Germany.
     Instead of the "melting pot" image of how all should melt into typically a white-male European bent and language, I think the more exquisite analogy of the United States is the Salad Bowl image of many cultures, maintaining their distinct heritages, customs, dialect, ideas, strengths, etc, and creating a huge conglomerate (salad), better than its individual parts separate.  Beautiful in the eyes of the maker of us all, who created all in His own image and likeness, yet distinctly unique from each other, and all of whom are sacred, no matter who nor from what country.

      It's a good thing that compassionate Catholics - nuns (sisters), priests, laypeople - took some of those that were the young "hooligans" under their wings to help shape them into who they became, with great care and compassion.  Most immigrants though have been responsible, reliable, hard-working, law-abiding citizens building our nation stronger and more just with each generation.  May we ask our immigrant ancestors from the past to please pray for us, pray for our nation, and especially, pray for our immigrant, refugee, and other "stranger" populations who always held a special place within the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
     Below is the Ohio Bishops' Statement on Immigration, April 4th, 2017, at a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Conference of Ohio.  It was sent to President Trump and to Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, and to all Ohio members of the U.S. House.  This is taken from the Catholic Conference of Ohio website.
     Bravo to our Catholic paper here and its editors of  The Catholic Times, for printing it prominently in the beginning of the paper!
     Come to Carey, Ohio on the VIGIL (Aug. 14th) of the feast of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother to spiritually support the Chaldean Catholics living in great fear.  Twenty-five to thirty buslines, multiple campers, etc, etc take over the entire city of Carey!  So beautiful!!  You will never have heard such singing and such gusto in the songs in love of Mary as you will when the Chaldean Catholics are there.  It may not be for long though, if our lawmakers have their way.

News & Press - Catholic Conference of Ohio

Ohio Bishops Issue Letter of Concern regarding Changes to Immigration and Migration

Call for comprehensive reform, support for children and intact families, enforcement efforts that focus on threats to public safety, and maintaining programs for refugees

Letter Encouraging Legislative Support for Immigrants and Refugees
Catholic Bishops of Ohio

April 2017
Welcoming refugees and immigrants is a significant aspect of our American heritage and a fundamental character of Ohio faith communities, including the Catholic Church. Ohio is blessed to have many refugees and immigrants in our parishes, schools and ministries. The Catholic Church in our state operates numerous programs that directly sponsor and support these newcomers.
As we listen to our pastors, principals, program directors, and more importantly, to the refugees and immigrants served by our Church’s ministries, we know of many good people who are deeply concerned for their personal safety and fearful about separation from their families. These are ongoing concerns, but recent changes in federal policy have heightened such fears.
At both the state and national levels, our Church has long spoken out in favor of policies that ensure safety and compassionate treatment for immigrant and refugee persons and families in need. We continue to call upon Congress to address our broken immigration system through a comprehensive reform that improves security and creates more legal and transparent paths to immigration.  As for enforcement, we do not advocate for the breaking of laws.  Yet, we do urge for a more humane enforcement of these laws in a way that distinguishes between actual criminals and otherwise law-abiding, undocumented immigrant family members.  We believe immigration officials should prioritize removal to those who are real threats to public safety. Likewise, most local law enforcement agencies we encounter are highly concerned about increasing trust between police and immigrant communities.  Their work for public safety relies on trust between immigrants and local police and sheriff departments.  We oppose efforts to pressure our state and local law enforcement to proactively enforce immigration regulations, unless public safety is truly at risk.
Ohio does not benefit from separating good families and traumatizing children in our schools who each day live in fear of finding that their mothers or fathers are no longer at home to greet them. In these instances, justice should be sought, but the punishment should be commensurate with serving the good of the family unit, which is the fundamental cell of all society. In January 2017, the chairman of our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, echoed our concerns over policy shifts created by recent presidential executive orders that increase the detention and family separation of many immigrants. He wrote:
"The announced increase in immigrant detention space and immigration enforcement activities is alarming. It will tear families apart and spark fear and panic in communities. While we respect the right of our federal government to control our borders and ensure security for all Americans, we do not believe that a large-scale escalation of immigrant detention and intensive increased use of enforcement in immigrant communities is the way to achieve those goals. Instead, we remain firm in our commitment to comprehensive, compassionate, and common-sense reform."
In Ohio, our Church’s refugee resettlement network includes diocesan offices in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Dayton. In 2016, we resettled over 1000 refugees. Catholic parishes and diocesan offices also work in collaboration with other refugee resettlement programs in Ohio. These programs have safely and compassionately resettled refugees from all over the world, including a small number from Syria. Measuring by the immense outpouring of support from parishioners and others in our communities towards these refugees, we believe most Ohioans who know migrants and refugees welcome newcomers with open arms and wish to see Americans offer acts of mercy. The refugee program is one of the most vetted processes for entry into the United States.  We do not oppose efforts to improve on the system, should there be a need.  However, the temporary shutdown of all refugee admissions, and the more than 60 percent reduction in the number of refugees who can be resettled, create a chilling effect on our ability to maintain programs and ongoing assistance.  Refugees who have languished in camps for years will continue to find no relief, and a sudden temporary halt for our own agencies will likely result in significant downsizing of resources and staff.
We encourage your support for the following:
1.  A comprehensive reform of our immigration laws, not just enforcement-only measures, but a reform that provides more paths for legal entry and a rational and clear cut separation of duties among federal and local law enforcement officials which does not compromise the community character of local law enforcement;
2.  The BRIDGE Act: S.128/H.R. 496. (This Act will protect the dignity of DACA-eligible youth by ensuring that these individuals, who were brought to the United States as children and are contributing so much to our nation, can continue to live their lives free of the anxiety that they could be deported at any time.);
3.  Efforts to persuade the administration to reestablish enforcement priorities, so that they focus more on true criminals and threats to public safety;
4.  Maintaining the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program with adequate funding while further improving the vetting process.
As Pope Francis said, "To migrate is the expression of that inherent desire for the happiness proper to every human being, a happiness that is to be sought and pursued. For us Christians, all human life is an itinerant journey towards our heavenly homeland" (February 2017 Address to Participants in the International Forum on Migration and Peace).
Thank you for this consideration.
The Catholic Bishops of Ohio
Most Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr
Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Chairman, Board of Directors, Catholic Conference of Ohio
Most Rev. Joseph R. Binzer
Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati

Most Rev. Frederick F. Campbell
Bishop of Columbus

Most Rev. William Skurla
Apostolic Administrator of Byzantine Eparchy of Parma

Most Rev. Jeffrey M. Monforton
Bishop of Steubenville

Most Rev. Daniel E. Thomas
Bishop of Toledo & Apostolic Administrator Diocese of Cleveland

Most Rev. George V. Murry S.J.
Bishop of Youngstown

Most Rev. J. Michael Botean
Bishop of Romanian Catholic Eparchy of Canton

Most Rev. Bohdan J. Danylo
Bishop of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Eparchy, Parma
Letter Catholic Bishops of Ohio (PDF)