The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has welcomed the U.S. Administration’s recent decisions on immigration and refugees. The bishops look forward to working with the new Administration to continue the country’s tradition of welcome.
In various statements, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has welcomed a series of documents on migration by the new U.S. Administration, starting with executive decisions that President Joseph Biden signed on his first day in office.
In a 21 January statement, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, welcomed the decision to reverse a 2017 travel ban. The ban prohibited immigrants and refugees from several Muslim-majority and African countries from entering the U.S. The new decision “will help ensure that those fleeing persecution […] or seeking to reunify with family in the United States will not be turned away” because of their religion or country of origin, said the bishops. They added that this decision perpetuates the country’s 240-year tradition of welcoming newcomers and those suffering violence and religious persecution.
On the same day, Bishop Dorsonville also released a statement pledging to work with the new Administration as it reviews immigration enforcement policies. These decisions are “important first steps toward ensuring that immigration enforcement in our country is balanced and humane,” said Bishop Dorsonville. “Too many people have experienced harsh and heavy-handed enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border and within the U.S. interior, causing families to be needlessly torn apart.”
Along with USCCB President Archbishop José H. Gomez, Bishop Dorsonville also issued a 21 January statement supporting the U.S. Administration’s Memorandum to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The 2012 DACA program aims to protect from deportation undocumented youth brought to the U.S. as children and allow them to work legally and access educational opportunities. While applauding the DACA program’s preservation and fortification, the bishops also urged the new Administration to pass legislation to provide undocumented youth with a path to citizenship. They welcomed the President’s efforts to produce an immigration reform bill and called for legislative changes to better uphold family-based immigration, recognize workers’ contributions, protect people fleeing persecution, and address the root causes of migration.
In a fourth statement released on 22 January, Bishop Dorsonville and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, welcomed President Biden’s decision to once again include undocumented migrants in the U.S. census. “We welcome this return to more than a century of American precedent that ensures all residents will be counted and included in the census and apportionment [of House of Representative seats]. This return to our previous policy reflects the inalienable truth that all people matter and are imbued with human dignity,” the bishops wrote.
On 3 February, the USCCB issued a fifth statement welcoming three additional Executive Orders that intend to restore due process in the legal immigration system. The orders aim to address the root causes of Central American emigration, expand legal migration pathways, reunite families separated by immigration enforcement, and strengthen integration and inclusion efforts for new Americans. “We welcome these Executive Orders on migration, which will help to ensure that immigrants and refugees are treated humanely and in accordance with their God-given dignity,” said Bishop Dorsonville in the statement.
The USCCB is the International Catholic Migration Committee’s national member in the United States. It has a long history of welcoming and integrating migrants and refugees. With its partners, the USCCB helps resettle approximately 30% of refugees to the U.S. each year. Since 2004, the Conference’s Justice for Immigrants campaign unites Catholic organizations in support of reforming immigration laws to make them more just and humane.