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Kevin ClarkeJuly 12, 2019
The badge of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer in Santa Ana, Calif., in May 2017. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)The badge of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer in Santa Ana, Calif., in May 2017. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)

The Trump administration is apparently moving forward with a nationwide deportation operation rumored to begin this weekend. It targets undocumented migrants under final deportation orders and will include “collateral deportations” of other undocumented persons who may be at the scene of enforcement raids. The deportation plan, first announced in June then quickly postponed, has provoked opposition from congressional Democrats and raised questions about the best use of Immigration and Customs Enforcement resources during a time of perceived crisis at the border. Though the numbers of asylum seekers and migrants from Central America reaching the U.S. southern border have risen dramatically this year, in June border apprehensions plummeted, suggesting the migration north may be stalling.

The raids target individuals whose immigration cases were fast-tracked by judges in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Miami and other major U.S. cities with significant immigrant populations. The threat of such raids actually being initiated this time is sufficiently credible that the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., used its Twitter account to recirculate a “know your rights” checklist for undocumented residents detailing how to respond to a raid in order to best ensure their chances of thwarting a deportation order. It begins: “Do not open the door… Ask for identification… Ask the officials if they have a warrant.”

A spokesperson for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said on July 12 that the conference was monitoring developments on immigration closely. The spokesperson added that the U.S. bishops “stand with our migrant sisters and brothers” and were ready to forcefully advocate on their behalf. Noting a previous statement from the conference opposing the ICE raids, the spokesperson said U.S. bishops were prepared to continue to speak out against widespread deportations.

A spokesperson for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said that the U.S. bishops “stand with our migrant sisters and brothers” and were ready to forcefully advocate on their behalf.

The deportation plan was first announced by the Trump administration on June 17. Speaking in reaction on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on June 22, the Most Reverend Joe Vásquez of Austin, chair of the bishops’ Committee on Migration, criticized the proposed raids.

“We recognize the right of nations to control their borders in a just and proportionate manner,” Bishop Vásquez said. “However, broad enforcement actions instigate panic in our communities and will not serve as an effective deterrent to irregular migration. Instead, we should focus on the root causes in Central America that have compelled so many to leave their homes in search of safety and reform our immigration system with a view toward justice and the common good. We stand ready to work with the administration and Congress to achieve those objectives.”

He added, “During this unsettling time, we offer our prayers and support to our brothers and sisters, regardless of their immigration status, and recognizing their inherent dignity as children of God.”

Anticipating the raids, on July 11 the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, in a letter signed by 235 religious leaders representing 51 faith-based organizations, urged the passage of the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act. The measure would expand and codify the Department of Homeland Security’s existing “sensitive locations” policy, preventing ICE, Customs and Border Protection and any immigration enforcement individual from engaging in immigration enforcement actions at or within 1,000 feet of locations like schools, hospitals, courthouses and places of worship without prior approval and “exigent circumstances.” The act is meant to assure immigrants that they will be able to worship, access education and receive medical care without fear of deportation.

Patrick Carolan, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network, is among many faith-based advocates objecting to this weekend’s planned enforcement raids and the policy of large-scale deportation it may inaugurate. In a statement supporting the passage of the Sensitive Locations Act, he said, “The Office of the Inspector General and several members of Congress have witnessed and disclosed photos of the mistreatment and basic human right violations of children and parents in detention centers at our southern border. Yet, the Trump administration is moving forward with family separation raids.

“This is abuse, plain and simple. As people of faith, we will not stand for it. We must invest in common sense and humane solutions that do no further harm to our brothers and sisters.”

“We are called to respect the dignity of every human person no matter their immigration status or station in life.” 

Carol Zinn, S.S.J., executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, likewise deplored the treatment of children at the U.S. southern border as immoral. “Now we hear that President Trump’s long-threatened raids will begin this weekend, causing more harm to children and families,” she said. “Plans to ‘sweep up’ thousands of our undocumented neighbors without regard to the children these parents would leave behind or the communities that would be devastated by their loss is unconscionable.

“Catholic teaching is clear,” Sister Zinn said. “We are called to respect the dignity of every human person no matter their immigration status or station in life. As women of faith we are compelled to speak out about these injustices and to recommit ourselves to the Gospel call to welcome the stranger and to stand with those in need.”

Other advocates for undocumented U.S. residents and their families have taken to the courts to attempt to halt the rumored weekend raids. On July 12 the American Civil Liberties Union, representing the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, the Central American Resource Center and other immigration advocates, sued the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. The complaint argues that the Constitution requires the government to bring unrepresented individuals before an immigration judge, so they can have a fair day in court before they face deportation.

“Our government is attempting to detain and deport families who came to the Mexico-U.S. border seeking asylum, and who were never given the opportunity to even present their case before an immigration judge,” said Conchita Cruz, co-executive director of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project. “For those seeking safe haven at the Mexico-U.S. border, deportation can be a death sentence. We must ensure each and every asylum seeker has their day in court.”

According to the A.C.L.U. statement, the Trump administration “asserts the power to deport refugees because they failed to appear in immigration court. However, as the lawsuit describes in detail, these refugees failed to appear because of massive bureaucratic errors and, in some cases, deliberate misdirection by immigration enforcement agencies. The agencies’ flagrant and widespread errors made it impossible for people to know when their hearings were being held.”

According to a 2017 report from the Center for Migration Studies in New York, six million U.S.-born citizens share three million households with undocumented residents—typically their parents. Of these U.S.-born citizens, 5.7 million are children.

The C.M.S. report contemplated the impact of nationwide deportation raids and concluded that widespread civic and economic dislocation would result. Among its findings: If just one-third of the U.S.-born children of undocumented residents remained in the United States following a mass deportation program, the cost of raising those children would total $118 billion.

With content from the Associated Press

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JR Cosgrove
4 years 10 months ago

There seems to be a difference of opinion. Who is correct?

Those subject to deportation under the plan have already had their cases adjudicated in the United States, with immigration judges ruling they have lost their cases, and ordering them deported. - Ken Cuccinelli
Nora Bolcon
4 years 10 months ago

Well White Catholic America - and that includes many of our bishops - You put the jackass in the stable, now you get to answer to God for all the damage he does while he is there kicking up his heels constantly at everything and nothing.

Ah yes Republicans are sooo Christian - How could I not see this - kicking out desperate immigrants who have harmed no one and possibly stripping them of their U. S. Citizenship holding children. Yes this is exactly what Jesus would do right?

Maybe America Magazine you won't hesitate to support the Democratic Candidate - who heaven forbid might be a woman and one who cares about equal rights for women in 2020!

Have Catholics learned their lesson? Have our Bishops? Sadly, probably not.

Lisa Weber
4 years 10 months ago

We are reaping the harvest of putting a criminal in the White House. The USCCB originally called Trump “manifestly unfit” for the office of the presidency. It is too bad that all of the bishops did not remain faithful to that original, overwhelmingly obvious judgment.

Charles Erlinger
4 years 10 months ago

When we observe current events such as threats of raids, as well as occasionally delve into history, we can hardly avoid observing the deft use of fear by unscrupulous power seekers. We also probably have read or viewed psychology essays on fear and its political uses.

What might come as a surprise is the point of view of Classical as well as Scholastic philosophers with regard to the nature of fear. Specifically, our interest might be aroused when learning that those philosophers and some theologians tended to look at fear in the context of morals, and, specifically, in the context of virtue. In the case of Christians, this context extends to both the theological as well as the moral virtues, and involves reference to the authority of Scripture.

In his discussion of Faith as a theological virtue, Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica notes that one of ways that the intellect assents to a belief is through an act of choice between alternatives. He calls faith the selection which is accompanied by certainty. He calls opinion that selection which is accompanied by doubt or fear.

As an appetitive movement, Aquinas points out, fear involves intellectual apprehension of good or evil. The gift of Faith enables our apprehension of God’s laws and judgement, and we can see the potential that certain behaviors will result in punishment. The dread of punishment causes fear. On the other hand, apprehension of God’s love and mercy and the promise of salvation causes fear of being separated from God. Thus, he concludes, Faith is, in a way, a cause of two different kinds of fear, namely, filial fear of separation from God, and servile fear of punishment by God. But he adds that servile fear also includes fear of many other perceived evils of less import than punishment by God. The consequences feared in both cases, however, can be generalized as evil outcomes from which fear influences us to shrink.

Aquinas proceeds to connect fear to the other theological virtues, Hope and Charity. Briefly, he points out that while consideration of God’s justice gives rise to fear, consideration of God’s mercy gives rise to Hope. Next, he observes, fear is born of love [Charity, in the case of love of God and neighbor], since we fear the loss of what we love. This train of thought leads to consideration of our objectives, the things that we consider to be the ends toward which we intend our behaviors to lead.

As one might expect, reasoning from this point of view leads to a focus on that fear which arises from failure to achieve “worldly” ends— ends of less import than separation from God, but nevertheless a part of servile fear. Basically, the conclusion to which we are led by Aquinas’ argument is that servile fear is good when it arises in consideration of God as the last end or overriding objective of living, but it could be bad if it arises in consideration of the loss of some lesser life objective.

The tricky thing about servile fear is that it feels so natural. It seems natural to fear loss of life, of freedom, of health, of physical and mental ability, or to experience deprivation of necessities, comforts, friends, family, status, and so on, whether these come about through punishment or oppression or through any other event in the natural course of life. Fairly early in his treatment of this subject, Aquinas approvingly quotes Aristotle as saying that in no case are we allowed to engage in sinful deeds because of fear.

To overcome the inclination to do something sinful for the purpose of avoiding an evil, we are encouraged to cultivate the moral virtue of Fortitude. Fortitude is about curbing fear. For a Christian, it is about accepting the grace to persist in the course of reason and to seek the good of reason in our decision making. Aquinas advises that the principal act of Fortitude is endurance, that is, to stand immovable in the midst of dangers. Can this apply to our dealing with the otherwise deft use of fear by unscrupulous power seekers?

Endurance is only part of the answer. Both Aquinas and Aristotle agree that endurance is not the only virtuous exercise of Fortitude in response to fear, whether that fear is in regard to death or to anything else that reason perceives as evil. Bravery in the face of the evil of deadly infection, Aquinas points out as an example, is a virtue that leads a person to attend the sick. There are situations, he writes, that call for an active response, one that may be spurred by daring or anger. He concludes that a brave person employs moderate anger for his action in response to a perceived danger that is feared. Fortitude, he explains, serves to moderate, according to reason, the passions of daring and anger, as well as doing its principal job of allaying fear.

We don’t often think about the moral virtues as protectors from fear. It seems out of fashion, as does the idea of “character” as a required attribute of a person in a position of civil authority. And virtue can involve a lot of effort. It is habit, the inculcation of which requires education, training, repetitive practice, and grace.

Vincent Gaglione
4 years 10 months ago

Trump’s are the words, thoughts, anxieties, and bigotry of every nativist who has ever lived in the USA. And his pronouncements about ICE raids only affirm his nativism.

While there are laws to safeguard our nation’s borders and citizens, there are other laws to safeguard the dignity and safety of fellow human beings, citizens or not. Trump’s rhetoric and policies are designed to create individual and family fears, disruptions, insecurities, and separations and detainments among people living within our borders. It is a serious violation of Christian charity and as such, any actions to support or encourage such, to my mind, are serious sin. And serious sin is something that Trump’s Catholic supporters do not acknowledge except in the bedroom, ironically except for Trump!

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