CCUSA calls for renewed solidarity in anticipation of World Refugee Day

June 13, 2017
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Catholic Charities USA is encouraged by the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirming a nationwide preliminary injunction against the Administration’s executive order limiting and suspending the refugee program and banning travel from six Muslim majority countries.  However, the ongoing raids around the country, including the detention for deportation of dozens of Iraqi Christians fleeing ISIS, is deeply disturbing and representative of an ongoing trend of targeting and vilifying migrants and refugees.

The opinion of the 9th Circuit provides a ray of hope to migrants and refugees in our country and stands in sharp contrast to the ongoing vilification of these communities as exemplified by a 157 percent increase in arrests of non-criminal immigrants in just the first three months of the new Administration.   Further, the Administration’s testimony today before the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, calling for a 30 percent increase in beds for the detention of migrants, funding the partial construction of a wall along the US/Mexico border, and seeking additional funding to increase enforcement is an appalling misplacement of our nation’s resources and priorities.  At a time when the Administration proposes $2.3 trillion in cuts to domestic assistance programs that help low and moderate income individuals and families, the squandering of our nation’s resources on targeting non-criminal migrants and dividing families is deeply troubling. Instead what is needed is a renewed culture of solidarity with the poor and those coming to our shores in search of a better life for themselves and their families. 

Welcoming refugees and migrants is the quintessential American way. It is not only deeply engrained in our nation’s history but is also a critical contribution to our nation’s cultural, spiritual, social and economic success.  From inventors and entrepreneurs to humanitarians and pastors – migrants and refugees have contributed to all facets of our country.  Still today this positive contribution continues with refugees fleeing conflict and persecution, paying more in taxes to all levels of government than they receive in benefits today – as demonstrated by a working paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research.  It is a remarkable story of resilience when individuals face death and persecution one day and then become positive contributors to their new home in the days and weeks that follow. 

For the Catholic Charities ministry, caring for migrants and refugees is at the core of the scriptural foundation of our work across the country.  From welcoming migrants fleeing Europe over 100 years ago to present day migrants and refugees fleeing conflict, poverty and insecurity today – the recognition that all persons are born with innate human dignity and belong to one human family continues to drive our work.

As we prepare for World Refugee Day next Tuesday, June 20, we pray for a dramatic shift in our national conversation from one of fear and distrust of migrants and refugees to one that recognizes and affirms their inherent human dignity.  The 9th Circuit ruling is a small start in this effort, but is a tenuous one.   As Pope Francis so eloquently reminds us, “Behind these statistics are people, each of them with a name, a face, a story, an inalienable dignity which is theirs as a child of God.”

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