Click here if you don’t see subscription options
 Faith leaders pray at the main entrance to the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego June 23 during a march and rally in support of immigrant families who had been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. (CNS photo/David Maung, EPA)  Faith leaders pray at the main entrance to the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego June 23 during a march and rally in support of immigrant families who had been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. (CNS photo/David Maung, EPA)

Catholics from around the country will spend the coming days protesting the Trump administration’s treatment of families entering the United States illegally and learning more about challenges facing these migrants. A number of protests will take place this weekend and a group of bishops, including the head of the U.S. bishops conference, will visit the border early next week.

On Saturday, as part of a nationwide protest against a Trump administration policy that separated children from their parents who had entered the United States illegally, more than two dozen events are beingorganized by groups with connections to Jesuit parishes and universities.

In Ann Arbor, Mich., members of St. Mary Student Parish will join a protest at the University of Michigan. In Los Angeles, people from Loyola Marymount University will march to the city’s federal building carrying a banner that reads, “Bienvenidos Inmigrantes y Refugiados.” And in the nation’s capital, parishioners from Holy Trinity Catholic Church will march to Lafayette Square, near the White House, to protest immigration policies.

A group of bishops, including the head of the U.S. bishops conference, will visit the border early next week.

Under President Trump’s policy, the government has begun prosecuting all migrants caught entering the country without authorization. Mr. Trump has halted his policy of taking children from their detained parents under public pressure, but around 2,000 of them are still being held, with many families saying they do not know how to locate them.

While the administration has promised to stop separating children from their parents, it is unclear how families will be reunited, because migrants are first stopped by Customs and Border Protection. Then children are transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, while adults are detained through Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is under the Department of Homeland Security.

“If as a church and as people of faith we aren’t willing to speak out about something like this, I'm not sure what we would be willing to speaking out about,” Chris Kerr, executive director of Ignatian Solidarity Network, told America, adding that separating families is “a direct attack on who we are as Catholics and Christians.”

In El Paso, The Hope Border Institute is co-sponsoring a march along with other Catholic entities to protest immigration policies that separate families.

The protests are linked to a nationwide day of action to be held Saturday, where rallies will take place in hundreds of cities across the country as part of the “Families Belong Together” campaign.

Then on Monday, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will visit Brownsville, Tex., with a delegation of other bishops. The delegation will “offer reflections on engagements with the Catholic community, U.S. government officials and Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley organizations on the issue of family separation,” the U.S.C.C.B. said in a press release on Friday.

Catholic bishops have held events for a number of years on the U.S.-Mexico border highlighting what they say are injustices present in U.S. immigration policy. Cardinal Seán O’Malley led a group of bishops to the border in 2014. Two years later, during his visit to Mexico, Pope Francis visited the border and, facing the United States and a group of migrants gathered in El Paso, offered a silent prayer for those whose lives have been upended by the need to leave their countries. Most recently, earlier this month, bishops from California and Mexico celebrated Mass together, separated by a section of border fence.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin told fellow bishops during their spring meeting earlier this month that a trip to the border should be undertaken to visit holding facilities where separated children are being housed.

He said such a visit would serve “as a sign of our pastoral concern and protest against the hardening of the American heart.”

A number of women representing various Christian traditions gathered in Brownsville earlier this week, part of a protest meant to bring attention to the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents.

As part of their visit, the group visited Sister Norma Pimentel, an immigration advocate who heads the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. On Wednesday, the group held a prayer service in front of the McAllen Station Central Processing Center. More than 8,000 women, including hundreds of Catholic sisters, signed an open letter addressed to the director of homeland security calling for an end to family separation.

“We want to pray for the children inside and for the families,” said the Rev. Jennifer Butler, C.E.O. of Faith in Public Life, according to a press release. “We know that you are a loving God. You’ve told us that whatever we do the least of these, we do to you.”

In a separate event in El Paso, Sister Simone Campbell, head of the social justice organization Network, was part of a group that tried unsuccessfully to visit a detention center housing child migrants.

“We are failing to act justly. We as a nation are not loving. Our leadership is not walking humbly. We must repent and change our course of action,” Sister Campbell wrote in a reflection about her visit.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
JR Cosgrove
5 years 11 months ago

Will they go record with an immigration policy?

As far as I can see, the bishops don't want Trump to enforce the law and essentially want open borders. Maybe they will have the guts to finally say it.

I have a question. Are the bishops spokespersons for Democrats or Republicsns?

JR Cosgrove
5 years 11 months ago

Quote: In 2018 alone, over $1.2 billion has been awarded by our federal government to organizations and religious charities for refugee resettlement, unaccompanied alien children, refugee and entrant assistance,

That goes away if the border becomes secure. Follow the money.

Valerie O'Gilain
5 years 11 months ago

They are, quite appropriately, neither spokespeople for Dems or GOPers. They are pro-life spokesmen for Christ and his Church.

They speak for the dignity of human life at every stage. They condemn abortion, they condemn euthanasia, advocate for health coverage for all, and, yes, they condemn the cruel use of children and family bonds as bargaining chips and encourage us to welcome the desperate stranger, quite literally the least among us, with compassion and love.

What would you have them do? Speak as GOP strategists rather than as preachers of the Good News to the poor, despised (and this comment thread alone demonstrates that desperate immigrants are the despised) and forsaken?

Philip Fabiano
5 years 11 months ago

Let me answer your question. Regretfully the bishops have been spokespersons for Trump in the last election and have been carrying water for the Republicans for years. Perhaps now maybe they can be spokespersons for Christ and the Gospel message of universal love. Let me quote Fr. Martin: "[I]n the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples that when they welcome the stranger, they welcome him (25:37-40). In Luke’s Gospel, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus contrasts two men who pass by a stranger on the side of the road rather than help him (Lk 10:25-37). And, by the way, Jesus does not say help the person only when it’s convenient or easy or when the person is not from a poor country. He says help them, period." The Bishops should be aghast at what they have wrought.

Abbey Erin
5 years 11 months ago

I will stay at home and cook new food recipes for my family

John Wakefield
5 years 11 months ago

The images of the children in cages and the sounds of the children crying have stung. A good sting. A very good sting. All of these abhorrent things that are taking place and continue to take place and will continue to take place throw a very effective stinger into us. There are no bystanders now. We are all involved. We are silent witnesses, or noisy ones - but, we are involved and share in guilt where guilt lies - with lies, and festers. The present predicament in the United States gives us a huge opportunity to understand just what is involved - action-wise - in our humanity. If we presume to profess having same. There is a huge and unprecedented (means, a first!) (to this degree!) challenge to our humanity. A humanity that we would say, in moments of poetic license, is of us all. We might do well to re-read Hannah Arendt´s incisive reporting on and out of the Eichman trial. It can be had via a pdf download. There is, indeed, the banality of evil .. and there is the numbness and boringness and slap in the face of our humanity that comes from watching all these gut-wrenching scenarios and doing nothing. I don´t think (just my opinion) that the laws are or aren´t going to entice our humanity. If we can find our humanity and put it in action ... the laws and this and that will follow. If our hearts are screwed on right, the actions will follow .. and this and that ... i.e., no more cages ...

E.Patrick Mosman
5 years 11 months ago

So where was your righteous indignation and bleeding heart wrenching concern when Obama was holding illegal immigrant children in cages and sending them home. Perhaps you didn't know about it because the Obama government and its lackey media failed to inform the public. The government now is enforcing the laws of the United States and subsequent court decisions since every elected governments swears to uphold the Constitution of the United States. As the Bishops,
Catholic clergy, particularly the Jesuits, preach a doctrine of aiding and abetting illegal acts when it comes breaking US immigration laws or there other illegal actions the Bishops are prepared to overlook in the name of Charity as long as the federal and State governments are funneling tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to religious "charities".

Valerie O'Gilain
5 years 11 months ago

Even if you are correct, Mr. Mosman, and Obama is equally guilty, does that make the perpetuation of a cruel policy any more just?

As for your "encouraging illegality" arguments, I would refer you to History. Escorting slaves to safety on the underground rail road was "illegal." But it sure as Hell wasn't unjust.

These immigrants and refugees are feeling dire circumstances - they are bringing / sending their children to us because those chidren face death or profound degregadation in the form or rape or forced gang membership. Back "home" these kids can't even attend school because if they step out their door they will be targets. Deporting some of them will be a death sentence (see below). The law can be an ass.

You are here, so I assume you are Christian, probably Catholic. Are you truly comfortable sending children back to their death or dishonor when we as Americans have been so blessed with wealth, resources, and room?

(And yeah, feel free to call me a bleeding heart. I'd rather have my bleeding heart in an ugly body than a black heart and an ugly soul.)


Philip Fabiano
5 years 11 months ago

If this is true, then yes--put them all in cages. I am sick and tired of people whining about these children whining and I had no legitimate response to justify the cages. Now I do: Apparently Obama did the same thing. End of story--end of argument. Thank you E. Patrick Mosman. May I quote you by name to my friends???

Lisa Weber
5 years 11 months ago

John Wakefield - Thank you for pointing out the evil present in our midst. The evil is clear and unprecedented. Those willing to accept this evil are usually taking their "news" from sources that specialize in presenting lies. Thanks for speaking out.

E.Patrick Mosman
5 years 11 months ago

Ms Weber, Assume your reply was intended for Mr. Wakefield's comment but was attached to mine, mistake or intentional?
In either case could you be more specific in your "taking their "news" from sources that specialize in presenting lies" by identifying these "news " sources? The major networks and media outlets ABCCBSNBCCNNMSNBCNYTimes et al present anti-Trump opinions and rumors as facts and outright lies as truths. Also what is this "evil" which you find so "clear and unprecedented" Be specific please!

JR Cosgrove
5 years 11 months ago

Mr. Mosman, a quote from Karl Popper is appropriate

No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude.

Describes most authors and a lot of commenters here. Irony is, it is a Jesuit site.

Stuart Meisenzahl
5 years 11 months ago

Try a little independent research and you will discover that the current detention issue is an identical replay of the situation under the Obama Administration complete with a Court ordering immediate release ("separation") of minors from detention with their families in Family Detention Centers set up by Homeland Security by SEC Jeh Johnson. There was no where near the outcry and outrage in 2014-2016 by the media or for that matter America Magazine.
I have no problem with the current outrage but point out the utter hypocrisy involved in the failure or intentional ignoring of the historic facts. Recheck your own "sources" against your own research.
If the immigration law is enforced as written, then our Courts have commanded the separation of minor children from their detained parents. See "Flores vs Lynch" , 9th Circuit July 2016 affirming in part the District Court decision made in 2015 in a case started in 2014!!! These dates all are within the second term of the Obama Administration.

Gay Timothy O'Dreary
5 years 11 months ago

Stuart, Thanks for the Flores vs Lynch citation

Truth is the victim when catholics act so partisan. Nothing has changed since the days of Moses.

Flores v. Lynch, No. 15-56434 (9th Cir. 2016)
“Court Description: Immigration The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s order granting the motion of a plaintiff class to enforce a 1997 Settlement with the government which set a nationwide policy for the detention, release, and treatment of minors detained in Immigration and Naturalization Service custody, and remanded for further proceedings. The panel held that the Settlement unambiguously applies both to minors who are accompanied and unaccompanied by their parents. The panel held, however, that the district court erred in interpreting the Settlement to provide release rights to accompanying adults. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the government’s motion to amend the Settlement.”

JR Cosgrove
5 years 11 months ago

Quote: The unfortunate reality is that we have entered into an emotive era, a time when reason is used merely to justify the emotions we feel. As such, we are at the mercy of whoever can best fan the flames of emotions. We get blown from one outrage to the next, rarely accomplishing much of anything.

Sums up what's happening as most females trying to get to US know they will likely be raped. Not a peep from bishops encouraging trip/breaking of laws

don ttouchme
5 years 11 months ago

Are they going to highlight the murder of Kate Steinle who was permanently separated from her family by a five times deported illegal? I'm guessing they don't really give a shit about that. That's the Catholic Church in America.

Vincent Gaglione
5 years 11 months ago

This past week Cardinal Dolan of NY issued a letter decrying the separation of children from parents. Reading some of the retorts to it from those who received the letter was instructive. It is obvious to me that many Catholics derive their moral outlook from radio and TV commentators on the issue, with special regard to the self-proclaimed Catholics among these commentators. We are in the special situation where the Gospel, the catechism, and Catholic Christian morality is being defined by political partisans, not by pastors.

I toss out once again my favorite theme, that we need to take a hard look at Catholic education as it existed 50 years ago. It has not produced the consistent Christian values in our members that we claimed, nor the financial support for our parishes! I must say that I don't give a damn about the alleged quality of that education if it didn't produce substantive Catholics.

JR Cosgrove
5 years 11 months ago

So ou approve of the rape of females? You approve of children trafficking? You approve of the use of children as pawns in their own objectives. You approve of the chaos of open borders.

These are things the people you decry don't approve of. So I must assume you want the chaos and accept the mistreatment of children in order to get it.

JR Cosgrove
5 years 11 months ago

Anyone now objecting to the current immigration policy which is a continuation of the Obama policy has to offer their own policy. Catch and release is essentially open borders. There are 600 million people in Latin America and about half will want to come. There is no way to accommodate 1-2 % let alone this many.

Michael Barberi
5 years 11 months ago

J Cosgrove,

Your pithy comment is the heart of the issue. Unfortunately, the Bishops deliberately ignore this fact or they do not want to adequately address it other than by linking it to a message like 'welcoming the stranger, et al'. The Church's position seems obvious...open borders. As to the current outcry about separating children, I ask: where was the outrage of the Bishops, and all those politicizing this issue, when Obama separated children from families who entered the U.S. illegally?

If anyone, inclusive of Bishops, want to persuade the U.S. government, Congress, et al, about adopting a fair, humane and compassionate solution to our immigration mess, try offering a clear and comprehensive immigration solution. This will be far better than criticizing one important, but narrow issue, while ignoring the larger problem and the consequences of 'fixing' the separation of children issue. After all, did not Trump reverse the order to separate children?

William Bannon
5 years 11 months ago

Bishops must research the murder rates of the poorer neighborhoods of the usa into which illegals move. Those murder rates are over twice the murder rates of Peru and Bolivia and Ecuador. This is financial motives not safety motives in coming here rather than to other countries. A ghetto thug in Irvington N.J. last December shot a Mr. Yupa in front of his wife and child as they came home from Catholic services at night. The Yupa’s were from much safer Ecuador...couple in early 30’s. Whites are using this issue unthinkingly....to feel good...about being good. Bishops might be using it to advance to the red hat, or to avoid anti abortion work or any number of defective reasons. But there must be defective reasons when the explicit reason doesn’t address the danger these immigrants are entering in our high crime poverty areas.

The latest from america

The head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication has defended its use of expelled Jesuit priest Marko Rupnik’s artwork in its official materials.
Colleen DulleJune 21, 2024
A conversation with Rachel L. Swarns, the author of "The 272: The Families Who were Enslaved and Sold to Build The American Catholic Church"
JesuiticalJune 21, 2024
Spanish Jesuit Luis María Roma, who died in 2019, was recently discovered to have abused hundreds of Indigenous girls while serving as a missionary in rural Bolivia, and to have documented his acts in a diary.
Members of Coro y Orquesta Misional San Xavier perform the opera “San Francisco Xavier” at the Church of San Xavier in the town of San Javier, Bolivia, on April 23. 2024.
The opera ‘San Xavier’ provides a glimpse of how Jesuits evangelized with music—a key dimension of the 1986 film “The Mission.”