The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has welcomed the news about the U.S. government’s plan to end Title 42, a policy that led to expulsions of asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, but continues to urge the government to adopt a comprehensive border management plan. The bishops also welcomed the creation of a Temporary Protection Status for Ukrainians.
“Some may question why and how the Church supports refugees and migrants, but the simple truth is that Christ identifies with those in need. This means that when people are hungry and knock at our door, we feed them. When they come to our door cold, we clothe them. And when someone who is a stranger comes, we welcome him or her.”
This call for solidarity and welcome was issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)’s Administrative Committee in its statement on migrants and refugees published on 17 March 2022. As record levels of global displacement persist into 2022, ICMC’s national member continues to advocate for migrant and refugee rights in the U.S., the Americas, and around the world.
“We welcome the end” of Title 42
Since early 2020, the USCCB has joined many other faith-based and civil society voices to advocate for an end to the use of Title 42, which enables the deportation of migrants under the pretext of controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Enacted by the previous administration and continued under President Biden, this policy has resulted in 1.7 million expulsions, mainly of asylum-seekers turned away at the southern border of the U.S. Human rights organizations have documented over ten thousand cases of kidnapping, torture, sexual assault, and murder as a result of these expulsions.
“We welcome the end of this harmful policy,” said Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration. “But let us be clear: any perceived or actual increase in vulnerable migrants seeking refuge at our border in the coming months will not be a direct result of this change. Many are already at our door, having been forced to languish in Mexico for an indefinite period of time, unable to avail themselves of the opportunity to seek protection in accordance with U.S. and international law.”
Speaking on behalf of the USCCB and bishops and congregations along the U.S.-Mexico border, Bishop Dorsonville repeated their key demand of the U.S. government to implement a comprehensive plan for the southern U.S. border. The plan must ensure “the humane treatment of all persons and respect their God-given dignity, while safeguarding due process,” he explained. “This can only be successfully achieved through government-led preparations made in close coordination with border communities and civil society across the country, especially organizations providing humanitarian support.”
Expanded protection for Ukrainians
The USCCB also has successfully advocated for measures to expand the welcome and protection available for refugees in the U.S., in particular those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.
On 3 March 2022, the U.S. government designated Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status, which allows foreign nationals to remain and work in the U.S. for a period during which it is deemed unsafe for them to return to their home country. “This decision provides important protections for Ukrainians already in the United States,” explained Bishop Dorsonville in a USCCB statement published on 4 March, which paid tribute to the resolve and courage of Ukrainians and emphasized the importance of humanitarian assistance in the region. The statement also highlighted the importance of refugee resettlement, calling on the Administration and Congress to “ensure that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program receives all necessary resources to reflect our country’s true capacity for providing refuge and welcome.”