Father James Martin: Blindly following the law is not ‘biblical.’

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about immigration at Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, Ind., Thursday, June 14, 2018. (Mike Moore/The Journal-Gazette via AP)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s recent use of the Bible to justify the Trump administration’s wantonly cruel migration policies, which now include tearing children away from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, was disgraceful. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s comment in a press conference that following the law is “biblical,” and thus equating following Trump-era policies with a religious commitment, was equally craven.

In the first case, the Mr. Sessions is engaging in what is known as “proof-texting” that is, cherry-picking Bible passages to prove a point without referring to (or even understanding) the overall context of the quote. Often, especially in political battles, this technique is used to weaponize the Bible.

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Mr. Sessions was referring to a famous (and infamous) passage in St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established” (13:1-5). The overlooked context here is that Paul was writing during a time of the severest persecutions and is encouraging the early Christians to keep out of trouble with civic authorities, as far as possible.

Sessions’s use of the Bible to justify wantonly cruel migration policies was disgraceful.

The problem with proof-texting is that there is always another Bible verse, or in this case many Bible verses, that can be used to refute the one chosen. To rebut Mr. Sessions, one could easily respond with a line in that same passage in which St. Paul says, “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Rm 13:8-9).

And as Michael Simone, S.J., an assistant professor of biblical studies at Boston College, points out, there are examples of breaking laws in the New Testament itself.

“Certainly other witnesses in the New Testament show Christians breaking the law when it serves God’s purpose,” he said in an email today. “In Acts 5:40-43, when the apostles are whipped and told no longer to preach Christ, they do so with even more vigor afterward.”

One could also point to Jesus’ own forceful words in the Gospel of Matthew, referring to how Christians should treat the stranger (in this case the migrant or refugee). Speaking about the Last Judgment, he says that whenever you mistreat someone, especially the poor, you are mistreating Jesus himself: “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me” (Mt 25: 31-46). This passage, by the way, is often called “The Judgment of the Nations.”

The passage cited by Mr. Sessions has been used to defend everything from slavery to Nazi-era laws.

Ms. Sanders is on similarly dangerous grounds in asserting that following the law is “biblical.” There are multiple examples in the Bible of times when laws are judged by believers as unjust and are therefore not to be followed. Jesus himself was accused of breaking religious laws multiple times, as when he heals on the Sabbath, defends his disciples who have plucked grain from the fields on the Sabbath and comes into contact with the sick, thus incurring ritual impurity, among other examples.

In other words, there are just and unjust laws, and following the law blindly is in no way “biblical.” Thomas Massaro, S.J., a professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara, said in an interview today: “For Christians, the law has to be more than simply the words of the civil law, taken at face value. No civil code can represent and exhaust all the values at stake or take account of all the circumstances that might require exceptions.”

Moreover, that passage cited by Mr. Sessions, from the Letter to the Romans, has been used to defend everything from slavery to Nazi-era laws.

The Bible should not be used to justify sin.

So how does one determine when a law is just or unjust? Father Massaro points to conscience: “Conscience comes in as each person interprets how he or she can comply with limited civil laws, informed by deeper principles and values that are not included in the laws on face value.”

Most thoughtful Christians understand the notion of unjust and just laws, even in the face of Mr. Sessions’s and Ms. Sanders’s troubling exegesis. Beyond that, there is a far more basic understanding of who Jesus was—and for the Christian, is. Over and over in the Gospels Jesus takes the side of those who are beaten or persecuted in any way, even when it brings him into conflict with not only the social mores of his day but with religious and political laws.

And in case it is not clear: It is not biblical to treat migrants and refugees like animals. It is not biblical to take children away from their parents. It is not biblical to ignore the needs of the stranger. It is not biblical to enforce unjust laws. The Bible should not be used to justify sin.

It should also be clear where Jesus stands on these questions. Jesus stands where he always stands and where we should stand: with the poor and marginalized.

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J Cosgrove
1 month ago

Selectively not following the law leads to chaos. Otherwise each of us could decide which laws to follow or not follow. Change the law where needed.

Jesus stands where he always stands and where we should stand: with the poor and marginalized.

What is it about Catholic countries/Social Teaching that leads to violence and poverty?

John Walton
1 month ago

"What is it about Catholic countries/Social Teaching that leads to violence and poverty?" -- there is an answer to this question if you read the history of economics (i.e. Schumpeter and others). When you cut away all of the acanthus leaves cluttering up the history of early CST, it basically becomes an issue of the feudal hierarchy, both civil and celestial, feeling threatened by the emergence of a creative middle class. Indeed, threatened by a surging middle class which had "practical knowledge" (tekne) and threatened to upend the social order by its growing wealth. That was around the time of "The Great Ox".

J Cosgrove
1 month ago

Is this a fake news narrative? The media are not separating unaccompanied minors, minors coming with adults not their parents, and minors with their parents. Is combining them as one a fake narrative? Are the real culprits Mexico and dysfunctional Catholic countries in Latin America. Mexico should be the choice for asylum?

Ellen B
3 weeks 5 days ago

Making a claim that Catholic teachings lead to violence & poverty is the "fake news" narrative.

Steve Magnotta
1 month ago

Now see here, Cosgrove ...

J Cosgrove
1 month ago

If you have a question or a problem, state it politely so one can answer it. Otherwise it is just a gratuitous remark. You certainly have the right to disagree but not with the facts.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Father Martin
Please look up and read the Flores Settlement in 1997
Prior to the Flores Settlement children were being detained along with their illegal entry parents. In 1985 number of social justice organizations started class actions against the Immigration Services to compel the release of all minors.. That battle was fought in various courts all the way to the Supreme Court until in 1997 the parties reached with Court approval the so called "Flores Settlement of 1997" which closed the cases consolidated under "Flores vs Reno" (Clinton Atty General). The Settlement required that if parents are detained that the children be released without undue delay in order if preference first to a parent residing in the US, then to a relative residing in the US and lastly to an agency licensed to care for children.
Please note this was the result of groups suing on behalf of the children! It was a result all parties believed benefited the children.
The Flores Settlement was crafted in the 9th Circuit Ct Of Appeals and has recently been reaffirmed to be the law by that circuit in Flores vs Sessions. I note it was also periodically reaffirmed in suits brought against both the Clinton and Obama Administrations as well. And in response to the tens of thousands of children crossing in 2014 -2016 it was made clear in the Obama suit that The Flores Settlement applied to unaccompanied minors as well. The Obama Administration had solved the conundrum of the accompanied minor by adopting "Catch and Release" :The parent was simply let go so the problem just disappeared. It was not so easy with the unaccompanied minors and there were a number of suits brought against The Obama Administration for maltreatment of minors.....including the closing of the infamous Hutto facility in Texas.

Now the Flores Settlement may involve some very confusing results ,...some that you view as unjust. But keep in mind it was brought about by people of good intentions, just like yourself, in order to vindicate the rights of minors! Beware future changes in the law that do not cover all the potential consequences. The Obama Administrations "Catch and Release Program" led to tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border.....self "separated" by their own parents!

Ashley Green
1 month ago

The current policy of separating children from their parents was deliberately chosen by Jeff Sessions and apparently agreed to by the president. They were not forced to go this route; they chose to. We all know this, so why the pretense? And when are those of us who call ourselves Christians, disciples of Jesus Christ, going to make an absolute commitment to following His teaching in every aspect of our lives rather than making it subordinate to transient political and ideological considerations? Or, as in the case of Sanders, to career ones. Is it too much to ask of a professed Christian to be willing to give up a high profile and high paying job if holding onto it requires you to participate in the sabotage of God’s word? If we are not willing to sacrifice ourselves even to the point of death to help those who are in dire situations, we are not Christians at all, no matter how much we kid ourselves that we are. To advocate on behalf of this kind of cruelty in the name of Christ is blasphemy, and those guilty of such conduct are in dire need of repentance and God’s forgiveness.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Ashley
Please google The Flores Settlement....there are many good summaries on line.
For example see Human Rights February 19 2016 which references an appeal from a then pending Court Case in the 9th Circuit. See American Immigration Lawyers Association, July 5 2017
If the law is enforced against a parent who enters illegally then Flores requires any accompanying minor be removed to a series of alternatives consisting of another resident parent, a relative, or a licensed agency. All of these commentators keeping referring to a Trump Policy....that is nonsense. There is a law against illegal border crossings and the Courts have imposed a consequence of enforcement upon a minor. I realize that this may be a jarring realization ...but READ.
Get the Court case modified or change the immigration law to create a method for handling the issue of minors which the Courts will accept!

Ashley Green
1 month ago

I read the May 30 Washington Post editorial about this and you are wrong. This situation was deliberately created by Jeff Sessions when he began to aggressively prosecute the parents of these families seeking asylum. And Flores does it require that these children be separated from their parents. There are other, far more humane, ways that this situation could be handled. If you consider yourself a Christian man stop trying to provide cover for a policy that Jesus himself would cry out to heaven against. The Sarah Sanders and Jeff Sessions will receive their reward unless they repent. No need for you to follow them down that path. Allow the love of the Savior into your heart and speak only from that Truth.

Ashley Green
1 month ago

Pardon the typos and missing words. Sent from iPhone and written on the fly.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Ashley
Read Flores for yourself....reach your own conclusion. The American Immigration Lawyers summary traces Flores and its requirements through applications of the Settlement from just 2014 to the present.
I am not trying to provide cover for anything but you really do need to find out what in fact the Courts have done given the immigration law in effect.
I have not stated whether I personally approve or disapprove....you chose to put words in my mouth. What I have stated is that if the immigration laws are enforced then the Courts take over with respect to the handling of the minors. The only choice is not to enforce the law. .....which is apparently what Father Martin and apparently the Washington Post wish.
Please remember that this Flores result was brought on by people suing on behalf of the children who were being detained WITH THEIR PARENT(S)! Similarly elective abortion is a moral wrong but it is nonetheless less the law ... which was imposed by the Courts.
Finally if you take the time to review the American Immigration Lawyers' summary you will find out that the separation of children from their illegal entry parent has been taking place through all the Administrations over the past 30 years!!....

rose-ellen caminer
1 month ago

"They were not forced to go this route ".True. Legislatures have been unwilling to do an immigration bill. Preferring to hold children hostage. Sessions called their bluff. A pox on both their houses; Trump, Sessions, and Congress.

What is equally disturbing and shocking is that separated children are not allowed to be held, touched and comforted by adults . There are 2 year old children suddenly being separated from a parent who, when they cry uncontrollably , they cannot be touched! This is as traumatizing as it gets for children! Because there is such a thing as sexual abuse of children, all children now have to be doubly traumatized, when, in addition to being separated suddenly from a parent, are left feeling truly abandoned and alone without the solace of human touch. How horrible is this! Where is the compassion and common sense and humanity in seeing a two year old child crying for her mother , and the adult just stands over her as if she can reason with her? The lowest common denominator determines even how we treat traumatized children! Have we, with our trope of being "the most compassionate people ever on the face of the earth " lost both our minds and our hearts that we rip children apart from their parents, and then make it illegal to touch and comfort the traumatized child? Then when an American youth goes berserk in a school, we'll all scratch our heads saying; what causes a person to lack such human empathy ?

Lisa Weber
1 month ago

Taking children away for "baths" echoes the "showers" of the Nazi concentration camps quite clearly. This is being done in the name of the citizens of the USA, so I hope the citizens who disagree with this policy bother to speak up.

And all of this is too little too late for religious groups that supported Trump during the campaign. He was clearly a criminal then and still is, only worse.

John Walton
1 month ago

It's curious isn't it, that the vehemence toward application of the law wasn't leveled at the prior administration.
And what, after all, that is unjust in a country defending its borders? What is unjust about a nation which seeks to maintain its cultural tradition. Even Aquinas commented upon this almost a millenium ago, and Saint JP2 said "culture is pre-eminent".

Alice Pat
1 month ago

There is no justification for "defending" our border with Mexico against poor people whose only crime is trying to survive.
And to what "cultural tradition" are you referring? Our culture is multi-cultural and our country the richer for it.

Stanley Kopacz
1 month ago

Perhaps you restrict yourself to corporate media. The true progressive media had plenty of criticism of Obama including his record deportations.

Dolores Pap
1 month ago

The last administration wasn't separating families. Intact families were kept together until they had their hearing, unaccompanied minors up to age 17, were placed in foster care.
In any case, no decent human being could be ok with separating these kids from their parents.

Stanley Kopacz
1 month ago

True. But my main point is that truly progressive media criticised Obama on many fronts. Unlike Fox Nooz which never deviates from pro-Trump propaganda and, of all things, apologetics. Criticism of Obama occurred in the pages of this periodical, as well. Obama, likeable as a person, was still pro-corporate and basically a Republicrat like the Clintons.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Dolores
That statement about the Obama Administration keeping families together is wrong. In 2014-16 the ACLU brought suit under the Flores Settlement in the 9th Circuit which held that minor children must be "released from detention" and consequently separated from their illegal entry parents who were detained. See "Flores vs Lynch", 9th Circuit July 5, 2016. Thereafter children were separated from their families. Thank the ACLU and the very liberal 9th Circuit for the current state of affairs. Both the 9th Circuit and the ACLU thought separating children from their families was not only OK but to do otherwise violated the rights of the child!!!

James Schwarzwalder
1 month ago

It seems to me that the Congress has work to do.

Phillip Stone
1 month ago

This makes me wonder whether I should consider the author a biblical fundamentalist and then I am reminded that he is a Jesuit.
Such minds will say that believing God utterly disapproves of homosexuality is incorrect although it is thoroughly biblical but can be contradicted by an appeal to some other authority.
Let me see, how biblical was Teilhard de Chardin SJ?

This issue is overshadowed by lawfare and American law is the means and the method.

My conscience is untroubled by having a Government which turns people smuggler boats back where they came from or if sinking rescues them and confines them in custody with offer of transport back to wherever they came from; and am secure in the knowledge that desperate souls are waiting in camps in dire need of political asylum where our representatives are assessing and accepting them to come to our nation on the basis of compassion for them in their need.

Lift your eyes up to take in more than your parochial concerns, there are thousands of people in much more terrible circumstances than just having to live in Mexico as one of the citizens; maybe they have priority rights over economic migrants invading a border.

Tim Donovan
1 month ago

I certainly an no lawyer, nor am I a parent, so I hope that my views won't be dismissed as belonging to someone who is an admittedly imperfect Catholic who therefore has no right to express his views. I was a Special Education teacher for six years instructing children with severe brain damage, physical disabilities, and/or severe behavior disorders. I also worked in various capacities for about twenty additional years with disabled children and adults, including a brief stint on the Board of Directors of an advocacy group for the rights of the disabled. Finally, I ended my work as a home health aide with a young man with a form of muscular dystrophy. I also am an uncle to three nieces and a , (who are now aduots) and for many years helped care for the (eventual) four children of my friends who became unwed parents in their late teens who in time married. While I believe that Jesus desires that we as Christians follow laws based on justice, as Father Martin points out, at times Christ violated the precepts of His Jewish faith. I also worked for a time in a group home with disabled men, and several of my co-workers were immigrants from Liberia who had fled from a brutal civil war seeking a better life in our nation. I now live in a nursing home/rehabilitation center at age 56 and a number of the staff are immigrants from African nations. As someone who was blessed with being raised by two good, loving Catholic parents (my still living mother converted to our faith many years ago) I believe that it 's immoral for children to be forcibly separated from their parents. In my view, the most prominent example of an unjust law is the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, which legalized the violence of abortion for any reason up until the time when the unborn infant (or fetus, which is latin for "young one" ) is viable. Many years ago I took part in a peaceful "rescue" or sit-in at an abortion center in suburban Philadelphia. I do believe in peaceful civil disobedience as a means to combat unjust laws, with racial discrimination as well as legal abortion being prime examples of unjust matters that must be actively opposed. Of course, regarding the violence of legal abortion, I believe that education about prenatal development as well as the efforts of crisis pregnancy centers (which I financially support when I'm able) to assist pregnant women are important. Finally, I believe that getting to know on a personal level immigrants as I 've been privileged to do is crucial to respecting such people as good people deserving of a dignified life.

Stanley Kopacz
1 month ago

The Constitution of the United States has something to say about cruel and unusual punishment and separating children from parents qualifies. Also, these children are innocent. This is child snatching and this country has a history of that with respect to the indigenous peoples of North America.

Charles Erlinger
1 month ago

The situation at our southern border, rapidly descending into a vortex of state-sponsored cruelty under the guise of justified obedience to the provisions of a law, is a culmination of decades of geopolitical stupidity. It is astonishing to read authors and commenters repeatedly refer to the separation of minor children from mothers as a policy. If only we had a policy. A policy is an articulation of a goal or desired end-state. The policy that would make sense would be a consistent solidification of influential relations with our closest neighbors on this earth, the nations of North and Central America, designed to last over multiple generations. How does the strategy of separating minor children from mothers further that policy goal?

Instead we have a record of firehouse-style responses to tardily recognized emergencies, for example: the disastrous intervention in Chile in the late 1960s, the equally ineffective intervention in Nicauragua in the 1970s and the repeated blundering half-measures in the drug wars for the last 50 years or so.

The policy that would make sense would be carefully and sensitively to nudge the polities that we are concerned with, consistently over generations, toward lawful structures that the populations could recognize as desired and livable—structures that would dependably recognize human rights, to include property rights. The post WWII era would have been a perfect, if somewhat belated, time in which to initiate such a policy. It would have coincided perfectly with the policy initiated with respect to Europe and Asia, which remarkably included our recently defeated, sworn enemies. It would have involved certain differences in approach. We would have had to take into account that we were dealing with peoples whose experience with outsiders had been conditioned by our essentially 19th and 20th century version of 16th century mercantilism up to that point. It would have had to take into account that we had roughly a century of history of derisively referring to these peoples as “banana republics.” an accurate description that we ourselves brought about.

Those observers are right who remark that the only way our southern border problem can be solved is to solve the situations that force people to leave their homelands in abject desperation. We could have had a multigenerational head start on achieving that policy objective and we blew it.

Certainly we have a right to expect that our immediate neighbors are within our sphere of influence, and they have a right to expect that we are in theirs. To be productive, our efforts in this direction should studiously avoid appearing to expect hegemony.

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
1 month ago

The blind leading the blind - both are destined to land in the pit.

Vincent Gaglione
1 month ago

If I may, I’d like to take a few “potshots” after reading this piece:
• This topic, the rights of an individual in conscience, is never discussed or taught in a sermon from a Catholic pulpit;
• To have to even write this article proves that the Catholic education of vast numbers of members is wasted religious puffery and too often focused on false political allegiance;
• That there has been as yet no concerted and strong condemnatory statement from Catholic Bishops on Sessions’ and Sanders’ comments lets Catholics think that maybe their biblical interpretations are right; and, finally,
• Let us not forget that many USA Bishops squirm now for the support that they have given and still want to give to a president and administration that is anti-Christian in its modus operandi on the immigration issue!
Thank you for instructing the faithful, Father Martin, but most of them don’t read America!

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Vince
Yours was a very cheap potshot at that!
To have a fully informed conscience on an issue you must first inform yourself as to the causes and effects involved in that issue. I suggest you undertake the somewhat tedious task of looking into the all too extensive history of this matter.
As I suggested above , you cannot possibly understand, none the less form a proper conscience, without looking at the court cases which control this result. In short ...READ the history of the Flores Settlement. It is as controlling on the present subject matter as Roe vs Wade is on the abortion issue.
In brief the Flores Settlement states that the rights of a minor are abridged if they are detained.....they must be released to some form of custodial care. The law respecting illegal entry requires that a violator is to be tried for violation ( in fact a speedy trial is required) . If a parent is detained for trial, then under Flores his minor children must be released! This "required release" is now characterized as "separation"!

As indicated above, this has been an ongoing struggle since 1985 with suits brought against every attorney general of the US for this purpose. The Obama Administration was no exception and both Holder and Lynch were sued on a number of occasions, including to force the "release of children" ( i.e., "separate") from the Texas Hutto custodial facility which held parents with their children ..
The Obama Administration tried to solve this with its "Catch and Release Program" .......just free the parent with the child, with a court date set for years from capture...voila the problem goes away!. But even that policy was upended when Central American parents chose to self separate themselves from their own children who arrived unaccompanied at the border. Those unaccompanied minors were also required under Flores to be released! The result was the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who arrived from 2014-2016 who had to be released into various forms of custody - but who were obviously "separated from their parents"!
Every time the 9Th Circuit has revisited Flores, it has stated that the minor must be released...Viz, separated from a detained parent. Apparently your solution to this conundrum is to release the parent! .....thus giving full effect to the infamous Alinsky effect. .....if you don't like a law then just overwhelm authorities with violations of it! Please note that the Obama Administration , with a bullet proof majority in Congress, broke its own promise to fix this problem in its first year.

Father Martin simply ignores the basic problem and in doing so he misdirectes and misleads in the formation of a fully informed conscience. Catholic education requires the formation of a FULLY INFORMED conscience!

Vincent Gaglione
1 month ago

Hi Stuart,

I was waiting for a reply.

Some actions are downright immoral by any way you look at it, informed conscience or not. You can baffle the discussion with lots of factual rhetoric but it doesn’t change the basic reality. Separating any child from parents or guardians, except to protect the child in serious circumstances, results in serious psychological and emotional consequences as well as strikes at the heart of the basic societal social unit, the family. Harm to children for political purposes is the pleasure of the current administration. By any measure, by any standard, it is immoral and no amount of rhetoric changes that fact.

Vinny

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

VINNY
The logic of your reply is exactly the same argument used by the ACLU and the other Social Justice Warriors to get the Flores Settlement passed:,i.e., it is immoral to detain underage minors when their parents are detained for illegal crossing since the minors had no choice. There were detention centers for illegal entrant families but the ACLU et al demanded that the minors be "released."...SEPARATED FROM THEIR PARENT(S). See Flores vs Atty Gen Loretta Lynch 9th Circuit 2016.
That, Vince, is the basic fact and we are now all grappling with the consequences of applying a short sighted logic which you yourself are now demonstrating.

This problem is perilously close to the moral/legal conundrum presented by the abortion issue where the Courts at the urging of Social Justice Warriors have have vindicated the rights of the woman over her own body at the expense of the rights of the fetus/child to life. So I would guess it is an appropriate analogy as compelled by your own absurd phrase: "Harm to the unborn for political purposes must be the pleasure of Democrats in the Congress"! .....The same goes for your comments on damage to the child except it is more than just psychological damage in the case of abortion. ......It is indeed immoral by any standard and no amount of rhetoric can change that fact.

The Flores Settlement "separation policy" is the product of well intentioned liberals deliberately seeking the assistance of the most liberal progressive Circuit Court in the United States. There were no Republicans involved in creating this mess. I remind you that it was The Flores Settlement that compelled the Obama Administration to release of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors (2014-2016) which led to tens of thousands more being sent by their parents to cross the border and subjected to them to all kinds of abuse on the way and after release.

By the way Vince, it was you that broached the topic of individual conscience....I only responded/commented on your failure to point out that individual conscience must be informed ......and not by "cherry picking" what facts you would consider.

Vincent Gaglione
1 month ago

Hi Stuart,

Two rejoinders, simply.

First, some 600 members of the United Methodist Church have brought charges against Sessions for enforcing the policy of separation of children from parents. I do wish USCCB would evidence some strong language on this issue, at the least.

Second, I am confident enough in what I believe that I’ll leave it to the Last Judgment to find out whether I am right or wrong on this subject. In the meantime, I express my opinions.

Vinny

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

VINNY
I am all in favor of the court case against Sessions.......The Courts need to squarely face the consequence of creating this Sylla and Charybdis : Enforce the law as written / separate the children from the defendants.
If you read the Flores vs Lynch case , you will see that the Obama Administration tried to create a practical solution but the 9th Circuit said it violated the Flores Consent decree. In the process of its decision The 9th Circuit , to its credit, noted that the Flores Settlement was to expire in 2002 provided Congress had acted to solve the problem. But since Congress had not acted the Court was going to enforce the terms of the Settlement. If you are looking for good faith on the part of the participants in this debacle do not look to your Senator from the great state of NY ....Chuck Schumer stated yesterday that the Democrats would not support a clean bill offered by McConnell to immediately resolve this problem ( clean means no other issues addressed). Schumer position that President can solve this with an executive order is Constitutionally wrong.
The Fifth Circuit has ruled that the Deferred Action for Parents enacted as an executive order was an unconstitutional suspension of the immigration laws which could only be enacted by Congress.

Hopefully the Court case brought by the Methodists will be expedited..
By the way it will be interesting to see where this case is brought since the Flores Settlement required by its terms that all issues under that Settlement would have to be brought in that Court!
As an update it appears that Trump just might execute an executive order requiring that both the law be enforced but the children be kept together....then watch the ACLU and other Social Justice Warriors rush to the 9 th Cicuit to overturn it! It will effectively pre-empt the Medthodist Suit but it will very interesting to watch as the compassion argument shifts back onto the proponents of vindicating the child rights at the expense of the families rights.

Steve Magnotta
1 month ago

Amen, Vincent. Well said.

Ashley Green
1 month ago

The Bishops have consistently spoken out in favor of immigration reform that protects families. They have also condemned this particular atrocity, to the fury of many conservatives who as a result, accuse them of caving in to political correctness. It is not the bishops place to frame their statements in ways that conform to someone’s liberal or conservative political framework. Being on the side of justice, and of Jesus, is enough.

Ashley Green
1 month ago

The current practice only started a couple of months ago at the direction of Sessions. Some people insist on pretending that they have no choice in the matter, but that is a blatant lie. Anyone who likes what is happening to these children should at least have the courage to admit it frankly - shout it from the rooftops even - than pretend to be something they aren’t, in this case Christians.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Ashley
It is not a practice....it is a consequence of enforcing the law by having prompt trials of illegal immigrants and prompt adjudication of asylum seekers requests to enter. The prior approach was to Not enforce the law by engaging in "catch and release" under which such trials and adjudication are scheduled to be heard years from now and for which the vast majority of illegal immigrants failed to ever appear. If the law is enforced the the courts have determined that the minors "must be released from any detention" with their parents. Every attempt by every administration to detain parents and children together has been challenged in court and struck down as a violation of the minors rights!!!

If you insist on referring to this as a "change in policy" , then you must understand that the prior policy was to avoid enforcing the law whereas the current policy is to enforce the law. The former was dubbed "Catch and Release" , and the latter "Zero Tolerance". Both names qua names were intended to and in fact communicated to potential illegal immigrants and Catch and Release was demonstrably successful in attracting tens of thousands of unaccompanied illegal minors during 2014-2016. Zero Tolerance was intended to stop the attraction. Underlying one was a refusal to enforce the law and under the other the law is enforced.
I did not like Catch and Release and I don't like Zero Tolerance but howling in the wind about either will not change the law and the court decisions driving these outcomes.

Ashley Green
1 month ago

So you prefer the current situation to the way it was a few months ago when this was not happening, or do you not? And Sessions was direct about unleashing the current practice as a deterrent. You can’t change that. It was deliberately chosen by Sessions/Trump. This is something that can’t be reconciled with even basic human decency, much less a true Christian ethic. Shame on anyone who defends it. Let them stand before the Lord some day and proceed to tell him all about the Flores settlement and how one certainly can’t blame good fellows like Trump/Sessions, those paragons of Christian morals, whose hearts are injured to the breaking point at the thought that there was not previously a zero tolerance policy in place to make sure that these future dregs of society are separated from their parents, those degenerates who apparently lack the virtue of being born into wealth and privelage, or of even being human enough to merit being treated as such. Go ahead and preach your own personal truth or your own personal religion, whatever it is. Don’t be on the side of these children; that’s too much trouble. And who in his or her right mind would choose to be on the side of the powerless against the mighty of this world anyway?

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Ashley
I prefer a solution which permits enforcement of the law AND allows parents to be united with their children during the process. It was the ACLU and a number of other "social justice warriors" who brought the Courts in to compel the release of the children. They believed and the Court believed they were vindicating the minors' rights! You apparently believe they were forcing. "the separation of the children". . The Court is correct and you are correct but note Sessions and Trump were not even in the picture when this started and has been going on in fact for years before
You insist that this was not happening a few months ago .......you are wrong. . A review of the multiple Flores Court cases will demonstrate that. In the Obama Administration both Attys General Holder and Lynch have been sued to "release minors"... "separate minors". Apparently you were not aware of this fact, or you would have been protesting against Holder , Lynch and Obama.
This is not a personal truth....it is a set facts you must deal with: If the current immigration law is enforced as written then minor children will be forced by our own courts to be separated from their detained parents. I suggest you direct your complaints to the ACLU and the other "social justice warriors" who were determined to free the minors from detention....let's assume that they were well intended like yourself ......Their good intentions emotionally projected led to unanticipated adverse consequences for the very people sought to be benefited.
Get on the phone and call your congressional representatives and tell them to pass legislation which will solve this conundrum........I have...Do your part. Virtue signaling is insufficient to meet this challenge

Dolores Pap
1 month ago

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/06/19/the-fact…

“The Trump administration implemented this policy by choice and could end it by choice. No law or court ruling mandates family separations. In fact, during its first 15 months, the Trump administration released nearly 100,000 immigrants who were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, a total that includes more than 37,500 unaccompanied minors and more than 61,000 family members

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Dolores
The Washington Post fact checker statement is grossly misleading. Indeed you could stop the separation of families BUT only if you stop enforcing the law and revert to Catch and Release!
If the wholesale decision of enforcing or not enforcing a particular law is " a choice", then the Presidential Oath should be abolished....it requires the President to do exactly that...enforce the law...not neuter it. I remind you that the Obama Administration was in fact required ( in 2016 when it enforced the same law ) to then separate the children from their parents . See Flores vs Lynch, 9th Cir July 2016 which compelled the Obama administration to do just that when it tried to keep families together in special "family detention centers". There just was never any publicity about it. Please read the Flores vs Lynch decision...it is in fact the law according to the 9th Circuit!
The Washington Post article is intellectually dishonest....by intent!
That a Court can compel such an immoral result is not at all unusual: you need only look to Roe vs Wade to see THE prime example

Ashley Green
1 month ago

Trump just signed the order ending this practice within any legislation having been passed. Do you want to tell us again how he is powerless to end this practice because of the Flores settlement,etc?

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Ashley
I will tell you that again .....the ACLU has already stated it will go to court to overturn the executive order as a violation of Flores.
You may reasonably expect that The Court will either void this Executive Order or modify the Flores Settlement....a request it has already twice refused to do.
Do yourself a favor and just read the last Flores vs Lynch decision. July 2016. ..a decision against the Obama Administration in which the 9th Circuit specifically stated it would not modify the Flores Settlement....and further held that it is up to Congress to fix this. If you just bother to read that decision the worst than can happen is that your frustration over this issue is better informed than you currently are.

Henry George
1 month ago

Can someone explain what used to happen with families that were arrested for being un-documented immigrants in the case where the parents were the only relatives in the US. Where were these families
housed while waiting for a hearing ?

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

Henry
I believe that starting in 2003 it was by a court approved settlement that the Office of Refugee Settlement that took custody of the minors. There were family centers in Berks County Pa and two in Texas, but by court action minors had to be "released" (i.e., "separated) out of these facilities without delay.

Ashley Green
1 month ago

Changing the law to make it more just is good. But that could take years, even if it ever passed. That won’t help those currently caught in this situation. Sessions and Trumpcan end this at anytime, your assertions to the contrary notwithstanding.

tomas wilson
1 month ago

This is relative.. there are those who back his sentiments and uses the law to support him while others also use the law to oppose him. It all lies with who you support.
http://www.lawyerdb.org/Lawyer/David-Malson-Jr/

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month ago

It is 3:30 on Wednesday the 20th and Trump has just issued an executive order instructing the Secretary of Homeland Security to keep families United while parents are processed for illegal entry.
The fat is now in the fire: the burden will now be on the 9th Circuit to either negate this order as a violation of the Flores Settlement or to amend the Flores Settlement to permit this. Expect the ACLU and other Social Justice Warrior Groups to rush to compel the Court to overturn this executive order.
Missing in action will be the Congress who has always had the burden of solving this issue of competing rights. The 9th Circuit will quite rightly point out that part of the Settlement in 1997 was that it would cease to be operative as soon as Congress adopted legislation to fix this problem....that was 20 years ago!!!

I remind you that President Obama promised to fix the immigration problem during his first year in office when he had Filibuster Proof majorities in both houses of Congress. If he had done it we would not be where we are today with the 9th Circuit and the ACLU controlling.

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