Mexican and U.S. Bishops: Immigrants are not Criminals, but our Neighbors

Geneva, 9 April 2018 - “We know that present and future migration flux will require new regulations by the two countries,” the Mexican bishops stated on 7 April. “However, not all rules nor all political or military decisions are fair and in accordance with human rights,” they added. “The true source of the law is the inalienable dignity of the human person.”

Immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border“Divisive rhetoric often promotes the dehumanization of immigrants, as if all were threats and criminals.” Photo: Immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. © qbac07/FlickR This statement followed the U.S. administration’s announcement to deploy the U.S. National Guard alongside the U.S.-Mexico border. The Mexican bishops echoed a group of their U.S. counterparts, who a day earlier stated that that area “is not a war zone.”

“The continued militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border distorts the reality of life on the border,” U.S. bishops with dioceses in the area stated on 6 April. “This is not a war zone but instead is comprised of many peaceful and law-abiding communities that are also generous in their response to human suffering.”

On Wednesday, 4 April, the U.S. government announced the deployment of the National Guard alongside the country’s southwestern border. “Until we can have a wall and proper security, we are going to be guarding our border with the military. That is a big step,” President Donald Trump said at a White House ceremony a day earlier.

The U.S. bishops expressed their concern that “divisive rhetoric often promotes the dehumanization of immigrants, as if all were threats and criminals.” They urged “Catholics and people of good will to look past the dehumanizing rhetoric regarding immigrants and remember that they are a vulnerable population, our neighbors, and our sisters and brothers in Christ.”

For the Mexican bishops, building barriers “is not consistent with human dignity” nor with the legacy of men like Abraham Lincoln or Bartolomé de las Casas, a 16th-century Spanish Dominican friar who championed the rights of indigenous peoples in the Americas. “Migrants are not criminals but vulnerable human beings who truly have a right to personal and community development,” stated the bishops.

“The only possible future for our region is one that is built with bridges of trust and shared development, not with walls of indignity and violence,” the Mexican bishops said. They committed to finding “solutions that sow fraternity and mutual enrichment in the humanitarian, cultural and social realms.”