Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark called on President Trump and Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform in an address in Brooklyn during which he urged solidarity with people facing deportation.
“You really have to believe in inflicting cruelty on innocent people to choose to support the policies we’ve seen in recent months while possessing the power to change the law,” Cardinal Tobin said.
Christian virtues of grace and mercy should drive lawmakers to rethink how the United States treats immigrants, according to the cardinal. He said Republican control of the U.S. executive and legislative branches of government represented essentially one-party rule, putting G.O.P. politicians in a unique position to pass comprehensive reform, if they had the will to do so.
“They could bring nearly 12 million people out of the shadows, if they wanted to,” Cardinal Tobin said. “This isn’t about border security. It’s about being attentive to the reality of people who are already in our communities.”
“They could bring nearly 12 million people out of the shadows, if they wanted to,” Cardinal Tobin said
Cardinal Tobin spoke at the Diocese of Brooklyn's annual World Communications Day on May 17, where he received the St. Francis de Sales distinguished communicator award. Just a few hours before he delivered the keynote address at the conference, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency reported that in the 100 days since Mr. Trump issued new executive orders on immigration enforcement priorities, ICE agents had arrested more than 41,000 individuals “who are either known or suspected of being in the country illegally,” an increase of 37.6 percent over the same period in 2016.
Cardinal Tobin, the leader of New Jersey's largest archdiocese, is known as an immigrant rights advocate and an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump's immigration policies. He joined a lobbying effort in Washington, D.C., of nearly 1,000 business leaders and politicians against the president's moves in February. At the time, Cardinal Tobin called Mr. Trump’s temporary immigration ban on seven Muslim-majority countries “misbegotten” and “demonizing.”
In March, he led a rally of several dozen clergy members to support Catalino Guerrero at his deportation hearing. The 59-year-old Mr. Guerrero, who entered the United States illegally in 1991 and later applied for asylum, was granted a one-year extension on his stay in April.
“The service of communicating hope today begins with putting a face on apparently hopeless situations, situations like Catalino’s, who without the solidarity of his brothers and sisters, might well have been taken away from his wife and four children and their grandchildren,” Cardinal Tobin said.
His decision to accompany Mr. Guerrero represented more than making a difference for one person, Cardinal Tobin said. The act put a face on the deportation debate and helped others understand the plight and fear of immigrants in the United States today, according to the cardinal, who added a similar gesture is something every cardinal, bishop or city mayor could do. Well meaning people, even religious people, can ignore the realities of their neighbors, he said.
This sense of facelessness is perpetuated by politicians, as well as members of the news media. When the for-profit media chase ratings, they can lose sight of an important responsibility to inform the public, Cardinal Tobin said. He added that faith must lead us to act on behalf of others to spread hope, as Pope Francis said in his World Communications Day message.
“As Christians, we have no option but to be disciples of hope,” Cardinal Tobin said. “I suggest that the way we do that is by putting a face on people and situations that are rendered faceless or whose faces have been distorted.”