Migration and Refugee Services of USCCB (United States Catholic Conference of Bishops) approached DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security) in June concerned about the number of families that DHS was forced to detain because they did not have family ties in the U.S. DHS asked MRS (Migration and Refugee Services to reach out to their networks for help and the response was one of overwhelming compassion.
Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit (ICE) has recently notified MRS that they do not intend to release the families arriving on the southern border currently held in their facilities. In addition, they will be increasing the capacity of their detention facilities and expediting the deportation of these families. This is a new policy decision that comes directly from the Administration.
MRS is very concerned about the fate of these hundreds of families and future arrivals, which include a significant number of women and children. Several years ago, ICE detained families and the psychological impact on the families, particularly children, was devastating. So much so that, following a 2007 lawsuit, families have not been detained until now. ICE is currently holding over 600 people at a newly opened detention center in Artesia, New Mexico and plans to begin housing families in a 600-bed detention facility in Karnes City, Texas.
As Catholics, we are not only called to show compassion and welcome the stranger, but protect family values, irrespective of one’s nationality or immigration status. Detaining families is inhumane, undignified, and violates basic human rights. In addition to the moral and human rights concerns, immigrant detention has proven to be costly to taxpayers and an ineffective migration deterrent.
USCCB is working diligently to continue to assist detained migrants through its Alternatives to Detention Program, as well as advocacy work. MRS asks that you stand in solidarity with them and also work to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected.
Here are a few things that you can do:
· Reflect on Catholic Social Teaching on Migration. Pray that migrants all over the world are protect, provided with safe passages, and treated with dignity and respect.
· Learn more about the issue of family detention by reading our backgrounder.
· Advocate against family detention by contacting your congressional representative.
· Support the Alternative to Detentions program by donating to the National Catholic Fund for Migration and Refugee Services.
MRS Vision Statement: "Creating a world where immigrants, refugees, migrants, and people on the move are treated with dignity, respect, welcome, and belonging."