Church leaders told John Kelly child separation was “contrary to our Catholic values” a year ago

In this June 6, 2018, photo, President Donald Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly attends a briefing on this year's hurricane season at the Federal Emergency Management Agency Headquarters in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)In this June 6, 2018, photo, President Donald Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly attends a briefing on this year's hurricane season at the Federal Emergency Management Agency Headquarters in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent John Kelly a private letter over a year ago, warning him of the dangers of separating children from families, according to a Buzzfeed News report out this week.

Mr. Kelly, now President Trump’s chief of staff, was secretary of Homeland Security at the time he received the letter. Mr. Kelly said D.H.S. was considering a family separation approach to deter unauthorized immigration during a CNN interview on March 7.

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“As you know, family unity is a cornerstone of our American immigration system and a foundational element of Catholic teaching,” the Catholic organizations wrote in a letter dated March 17, 2017, which Buzzfeed obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against D.H.S. That same month, more than 180 national and local organizations signed a public statement asking Mr. Kelly to reconsider plans to separate families.

The letter may have had changed Mr. Kelly’s mind for a time.

“We believe that separating families would be extremely detrimental to basic child welfare principles, contrary to our Catholic values and ineffective to the goals of deterrence and safety,” the two-page letter read. “We urge you to reject his harmful policy.”

Donna Markham, O.P., president of Catholic Charities USA, Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Tex., chairman of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, and Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, Calif., chairman of CLINIC, signed the private letter.

The letter may have changed Mr. Kelly’s mind for a time. A little over a week after the letter from Catholic leaders, Mr. Kelly told Senate Democrats the administration would not separate children from parents at the border.

Trump administration officials said that 2,342 children had been separated from 2,206 parents.

Trump administration officials said that 2,342 children had been separated from 2,206 parents at the U.S.-Mexico border between May 5 and June 9 as part of the policy, according to Catholic News Service. Mr. Trump signed an executive order on June 20 rescinding the policy. While families would no longer be separated, according to the executive order, they may be detained together during the process of prosecution and deportation at the border.

The administration was given until July 10 to reunite children under the age of 5 with their families, but administration officials said on July 9 that they would not be able to meet that deadline. The administration has until July 26 to reunite all of the more than 2,000 children who have been separated from parents.

“The children who are separated from their parents need to be reunited. That’s already begun and it’s certainly not finished and there may be complications, but it must be done and it’s urgent,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S.C.C.B., on July 2 after visiting detained migrant children.

Material from Catholic News Service was used in this report.

J Cosgrove
1 week ago

Are the bishops immoral with these letters? It was/is the law. The law is protecting the children from negligent parents. About 40,000 children are separated from their negligent parents every year in the United States. Not a peep from Catholic charities so I assume they support such actions. The children are just being used as pawns to avoid the immigration laws. Why support the very negligent parents? Especially when over half the females get raped? Are the bishops who encourage them to come equally immoral?

Ellen B
5 days 21 hours ago

Morality and Legality are two different things. They don't mean the same, never have, never will. Second, it was/is never the LAW. It is a zero tolerance policy put in place by current President Trump, distributed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on April 6. Thousands of family separations were the expected outcome. That is why the bishops wrote the letter, to encourage the then head of Homeland Security NOT to implement such a draconian policy. The policy is immoral & harmful. And the fact that nothing was put in place to track the children & their parents to unite them again at a later date shows how cruel it was intended to be.

"..half the females get raped?" whaaa????

J Cosgrove
5 days 20 hours ago

The number of women raped is actually much higher. Source: Huffington Post and other publications. You should read more/maybe other sources. It is both illegal and extremely immoral. What adult brings a child to a place that requires a harsh journey where they know the child will be taken from them and to get there expose themselves and the child to drug dealers and rapists. Answer: a very negligent and immoral adult.

Ellen B
5 days 11 hours ago

You are conflating minors traveling alone with families travelling together.

It's not negligent & immoral to separate parents (who would protect their children) from their children? To lock them in cages? To have them placed in overcrowded facilities? To have the people at the facilities threaten them? To not maintain a trail of the parents & their children? How about a one-year old appearing in court? How about the authorities telling a judge they may have locked up a US Citizen for a year?

And while I'm glad you're showing concern for women's issues (albeit for political reasons) how are women helped if they are deported if they report a sexual & physical assault? That just prevents crimes from being reported.

J Cosgrove
5 days 10 hours ago

Any adult traveling with a child whether the parent or someone else and entering the country illegally is being negligent and essentially a negligent adult. Why should the child remain with that adult? They are even more negligent because they know they will be separated from the child. The child is only there to thwart the immigration laws. The child is being used as a pawn for their personal desires. How anyone can defend such behavior is beyond me.

Ellen B
4 days 14 hours ago

It is not illegal to request asylum. Given the choice between dying in your own country & leaving, you would leave too if you cared about your family. Hardly a "pawn". That people are unable to empathize and call it "illegal" when that's not the case is jaw dropping. And that people overlook that our own governments negligence in not caring about reuniting families is Un-American.

J Cosgrove
4 days 12 hours ago

You just invited 2+ billion people into the US. All they have to do is say the word "asylum" and they go to the head of the line. Just how bad is it in the rest of the world? The world has been getting progressively better so why now are they so desperate? The answer is they now know how to game the system by using children. You want to correct differences by teaching others to say just one word. But it will be a fraud and how are you going to keep 500 million families together. We all would like to make the poor richer but it is not going to happen by inviting them all to the US. It has to happen in their countries.

Ellen B
4 days 14 hours ago

It's ridiculous to claim that suddenly 2 Billion people can come to the US & claim asylum! People have been able to claim asylum for decades. Where is that 2 Billion people you've pulled out of thin air? Wouldn't they already be here? The people seeking asylum - as you well know - are coming over our southern border from areas that are overrun with gang violence. They are coming to save their families. Their stories are readily available to read on-line. Unless those stories & reasons wouldn't move your opinion at all.

But the point of this article was that the bishops urged Kelly against the plan of separating families. It is immoral. And that immorality is compounded by the fact there was never a plan for what to do with those children or how to reunite the families. Or as John Kelly said in May to NPR "The children will be taken care of... put in foster care or whatever." I guess "whatever" includes cages with no plan for reunification. Because "moral" people want to punish children? "Christians" want to do that? And now there are concerns that 200K US CITIZENS who are minors will be separated from their parents. 200K US citizens jailed? Or placed in an already over-taxed foster care system? Shame on this country. And shame on "Christians" who support it.

J Cosgrove
1 day 11 hours ago

My guess is that the number is higher than 2 billion. I bet if you told all the people in Latin America, Africa and Asia that they could get into the United States by just saying the word "asylum," we would see over 50% say yes. Again I suggest you read more/other sources about what is happening. The cages were the Democrats' idea during the Obama administration This whole controversy started when some ex Obama people tweeted photos to embarrass Trump, without knowing the photos were from the Obama years..

Ellen B
5 days 11 hours ago

Mr Cosgrove, that just isn't true. Kids were placed in cages because there was no other place to put them. There was no plan! The current administration decided to implement this new policy of 100% separations without anything in place for what to do with the children. This was foreseen.
As Mr Kelly said "Foster care or whatever". The foster care system in this country is already over taxed. In one state in 2017 for example, foster kids were left to sleep in offices because there weren't available placements. What do you think happens when you suddenly increase that amount by thousands in the border states. And tapes of the crying children - those are real. The stories coming from the individuals who have been released are real.

But you go ahead and pretend that the ability to request asylum hasn't been in place for generations & this country hasn't been overrun - the request still has to be granted. Go ahead and ignore that the President signed this "zero tolerance" policy (not law) this year. Blame whoever you want. It doesn't make it any less immoral. It doesn't make those who justify it any less complicit. This country IS better than that. And shame on those who would do otherwise. And shame on those who know of what is happening & call themselves Christians and support it.

Sandi Sinor
1 week ago

Perhaps the good bishops should write more letters - to Kelly, to Paul Ryan, to other "Catholic" Trump supporters, reminding them of what Jesus taught - starting with Matthew 25: 31-46, and Mark 12:3-32.

Stanley Kopacz
1 week ago

This whole affair reminded me of Fred Zinneman's 1948 movie, "The Search" with Montgomery Clift, a GI in post-war Europe who reunites a waif with his mother. They were separated by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps. Watching this movie might soften a hardened heart.

J. Calpezzo
1 week ago

Why a private letter?

Wilfreda Gonzalez
1 week ago

Liberal Catholics were unconcenred during Obama’s dereliction of duties for child immigrant crisis during his reign of terror, Why the sudden metanoia?
Oh, its political theater. But of course

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2699460/Obama-administration-re…

“Barack Obama repeatedly ignored warnings about child immigration crisis for two years | Daily Mail Online
Obama administration 'repeatedly ignored warnings about child immigration crisis for TWO YEARS'
Border agencies were 'ringing alarm bells' during the past two years about about the federal government's capacity to manage the immigration issue
The claim was made in a 41-page report was presented to the Department of Homeland Security in March
The Obama administration considered the problem a 'local' one and didn't want it to overshadow the President's plans for immigration reform
The administration has denied that it was too slow to react and claims the current crisis is 'off-the-charts different'

The Obama administration has been accused of repeatedly ignoring warning signs over the past two years that showed a growing number of unaccompanied children from Central America were crossing the Mexican border into the U.S.

Agencies like the Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as politicians north and south of the border were all ‘ringing alarm bells’ about the federal government’s capacity to manage the situation, according to a report presented to the Department of Homeland Security in March.

The 41-page report was compiled by a team from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). “

Wilfreda Gonzalez
1 week ago

Catholic attendance has evaporated for a reason.
No Christ. Just all Leftist politics.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-aides-were-warned-of-brew…

“Obama aides were warned of brewing border crisis”
By David Nakamura, Jerry Markon and Manuel Roig-FranziaJuly 19, 2014

“Nearly a year before President Obama declared a humanitarian crisis on the border, a team of experts arrived at the Fort Brown patrol station in Brownsville, Tex., and discovered a makeshift transportation depot for a deluge of foreign children.

Thirty Border Patrol agents were assigned in August 2013 to drive the children to off-site showers, wash their clothes and make them sandwiches. As soon as those children were placed in temporary shelters, more arrived. An average of 66 were apprehended each day on the border and more than 24,000 cycled through Texas patrol stations in 2013. In a 41-page report to the Department of Homeland Security, the team from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) raised alarms about the federal government’s capacity to manage a situation that was expected to grow worse.

The researchers’ observations were among the warning signs conveyed to the Obama administration over the past two years as a surge of Central American minors has crossed into south Texas illegally. More than 57,000 have entered the United States this year, swamping federal resources and catching the government unprepared.

The administration did too little to heed those warnings, according to interviews with former government officials, outside experts and immigrant advocates, leading to an inadequate response that contributed to this summer’s escalating crisis.

Federal officials viewed the situation as a “local problem,” said Victor Manjarrez Jr., a former Border Patrol station chief who led the UTEP study. The research, conducted last year, was funded by the Department of Homeland Security and published in March. A broader crisis was “not on anyone’s radar,” Manjarrez added, even though “it was pretty clear this number of kids was going to be the new baseline.”​

Lisa Weber
1 week ago

The Catholic bishops should have stayed on top of the situation and kept writing more letters. The bishops will never be able to make up for the fact that too many of them supported Trump as a "pro-life" candidate.

J Cosgrove
6 days 23 hours ago

The bishops are being immoral by writing these letters. They are encouraging the exploitation of children by immoral adults and as such are enablers of immoral behavior.

Lisa Weber
5 days 10 hours ago

J Cosgrove - Your reply makes no sense, like most of your posts.

Ashley Green
5 days 19 hours ago

The ends to which so-called Catholics who support both legalized abortion and policies such as this, apparently for the sole purpose of remaining loyal to one side of a political divide, never ceases to amaze. Any “Catholic” of such a mindset really ought to declare his true loyalties straight out and stop pretending to be something that he is not. If nothing else, that would at least be honest.

J Cosgrove
5 days 16 hours ago

Ashley,

You are accusing people of things that you cannot know? I suggest you ask questions. Maybe you will learn their motivations and it may not be blind allegiance to any political party.

Ashley Green
5 days 14 hours ago

Can you say unequivocally that genocide is evil and that those who support it are complicit in the evil? Or would you first need to ask questions and engage in constructive dialogue with those who excuse and give moral cover for those carrying out the genocide? There is room for debate on all kinds of things. Then there are those things that are just plain evil and must be addressed as such. Justice demands it. And deliberate support for intrinsically evil acts and policies cannot be justified on any pretext. We are Christians, not conservatives or liberals. The end for which we strive is truth and justice. Whenever someone begins from a position of conservative or liberal political identity, he or she is already compromised and will end up supporting all kinds of things that are inherently opposed to justice. Such tragically misplaced loyalty occurs on both sides of the political spectrum and is easy to see by those not so blinded . The consequences are tragic - and not to a small degree.

J Cosgrove
5 days 12 hours ago

I do not condone genocide, which is usually defined as the killing of a large group of people due to their ethnic background. I don't condone the killing of anyone except in certain sanctioned situations let alone because of ethnic background. I argued against the death peanslty in my Jesuit religious class and got my head handed to me by my Jesuit professor. I was in the military and our ship was shot at and then returned fire. I had no problem with that. I find it interesting that you would ask a question on genocide. I doubt anyone commenting on this site would ever endorse it.

Jack Feehily
4 days 17 hours ago

Once again America’s editors wade into political controversies wrapped in the mantel of the Gospel. They know perfectly well that there are many circumstances which result in the necessary separation of children from one or more parents. They frame the argument after the manner of political partisans alleging that “Trump” or the department of justice embarked on enforcing existing immigration law out of the motivation of destroying family unity. This is nonsense and cannot be supported by the facts. Trying to deal with processing tens of thousands of people who have entered the US as if they had a right to trespass borders is challenging. We certainly want to exercise compassion towards those who come with the hope of applying for asylum, but can we be expected to put them all up at area hotels while their petitions are being reviewed. Many of these children are not accompanied by their parents but are victims of human trafficking. I’m disappointed that America’s editors are more determined to unite themselves with “Never Trumpers” rather than ferret out the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Vincent Gaglione
3 days 21 hours ago

Mr. Kelly turns out to be another product of Catholic upbringing and education, like some here, who parse every situation in a legalistic way and define Catholic morality based on civil and canon laws written and/or implemented in contradiction to the spirit of Christ in the Gospels. They perceive themselves to be the righteous and the upright. And when a Bishop tries to direct them to a greater Gospel concept than their strongly-held narrow legalisms, they refuse to hear.

J Cosgrove
3 days 19 hours ago

I suggest you propose a practical immigration solution that can be implemented. We do not need virtue signaling but ways of solving the problem. It is easy to look down from above criticizing others who are pointing to the chaos that will result from the Bishop's recommendations. One has to have something practical and the Bishops do not. I suggest you present a practical solution rather than pompously criticizing others. For example, how would you prevent the rape of the woman traveling across Mexico to get to the borders?

Vincent Gaglione
1 day 21 hours ago

I propose that the Republican Congress and Republican President, in concert with the Democratic minority, finally develop a meaningful immigration policy, as had been proposed when both Bush Jr. and Obama were Presidents and hard-line Republicans refused to cooperate. In the meantime I will continue to criticize any policies that demean the humanity of individuals and contravene Catholic Christian morality, no matter how poorly the current immigration system of the USA works.

J Cosgrove
1 day 11 hours ago

In other words you punted. The Trump administration has proposed several immigration policies but no matter what they do the Democrats balk. The Democrats do not want a solution. They want to demagogue this issue to get votes. The children are pawns in the Democrat's return to power.

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