NEW YORK — Current and future migration leaders for the U.S. bishops have expressed cautious optimism about a March 4 court ruling demanding that migrants cannot be deported to “places where they will be persecuted or tortured”, but appalled by yet another court ruling. protections of unaccompanied minors against immediate expulsion.
Each decision was tied to Title 42, a border policy that allows for the immediate deportation of migrants and limits their right to seek asylum. Regardless of the nature of the court’s recent decisions, the two bishops say it ignores what is really needed.
“It’s a distraction from what we really hope to hear not from the courts, but from the government and Congress about comprehensive immigration reform,” said Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville of Washington, D.C. USCCB Migration Chair. Node.
Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, who takes over as migration chair in November, said the fact that Title 42 is still at the center of the immigration conversation two years after its implementation makes it ” very concerned about the future of this debate. .”
“So many people in this country, and I don’t think it’s just one political group, have accepted this conclusion that people crossing our southern border are a threat to us,” Seitz said. Node.
Title 42 was implemented by the Trump administration at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been streamlined as a public health measure to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Biden administration has denounced the policy both on the campaign trail and in office as inhumane, despite keeping it in place for more than a year as migrant numbers surged.
The first court ruling on March 4 came from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which ruled that migrants cannot be deported to ‘places where they will be persecuted or tortured’ . The decision only applies to migrant families with children.
Seitz argues that Mexico, especially cities along the US-Mexico border, should be viewed as a place where migrants face persecution, especially those from other countries. He spoke of a trip he took across the border to Ciudad Juáez last week where he spoke to “person after person who had to deal with robbery, extortion , to a kidnapping”.
One Honduran family in particular, Seitz said, was held for six weeks until they could collect enough money to pay a $6,000 ransom, and now they are reluctant to leave the Ciudad Juárez shelter in where she is, lest a similar situation arise. will happen again.
“Those are the types of circumstances that we put people in,” Seitz said.
Tania Guerrero, lawyer for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) said Node that the logic with regard to Mexico should be simple: “Persecution and torture everywhere is persecution is torture.” She called the decision itself a “huge step forward” and noted it was an opportunity for the Biden administration.
“I think based on the DC Circuit Court decision, the Biden administration should end Title 42. It’s a good moment in time,” Guerrero said. “I also think it’s a great catalyst for restoring asylum and restoring an asylum system that includes entry points, follows due process.”
The other March 4 ruling was issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Division of Fort Worth, ruling that unaccompanied minors are not exempt from Title 42 deportation.
Seitz called the decision breathtaking, saying he was shocked by her “coldness”.
“Even the most hardened human beings can usually find a soft spot in their hearts for children, but we are simply reduced to what the law says without any kind of consideration that we would place individual children in a place where they would be completely helpless and vulnerable to criminal elements,” Seitz said.
Dorsonville said everything about children is “sacred”, adding that “by all means, children should be treated as the future of society, rather than a danger to society”.
The two bishops spoke of the need to continue advocating for immigration reform, as well as educating people and bringing to light the stories of migrants at the border.
To that end, Dorsonville said he hopes USCCB’s membership in the Alliance for a New Consensus on Immigration, along with other faith groups, business entities and grassroots organizations , would bring hope to migrants and motivate the government to work together.
The coalition advocates for immigration reform. It has more than 30 members, including the Episcopal Church, the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Latin Evangelical Coalition, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Without a bipartisan agreement we will get nowhere and that is why by calling for this as part of an alliance, united, militant, it shows goodwill for all of us to see that we can iron out our differences and to find out what advantages and benefits we can bring to all the people who expect something from our religious tradition,” said Dorsonville.
Seitz stressed the need to educate people about the effect of Title 42 on migrants, and from there, that the current system is broken and needs to be redesigned. He also acknowledged that his views have changed on the Biden administration after expectations and promises have yet to be fulfilled. Although he said there was still time.
“What I saw with the Biden administration was a very promising start…but what we saw more clearly is that there is another strain of personnel in the administration that is not focused not so much about long-term outcomes, but about immediate political ebbs and flows, and they very often have the upper hand,” Seitz said.
“I don’t think the story is over,” he continued. “But we just realize we have a higher hill to climb before we make lasting changes for the better.”
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