January 26, 2017 — Yesterday, President Donald Trump issued two executive orders that will impact immigrants both in communities across the United States and those who approach our southern border seeking refuge from violence.
The Jesuits of Canada and the United States are profoundly concerned about the administration’s actions to dramatically increase detention and deportation, to further divide the United States from its neighbors, and to disregard the judgment of local authorities when it comes to protecting their communities.
Increasingly, migrants come to the United States fleeing violence and insecurity. Our faith calls us to see them, to understand their situations and to offer protection. Our partners at the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) regularly accompany individuals and families who are denied access to the due process and protection they deserve. We echo KBI’s deep concern that President Trump's actions will make individuals and families fleeing violence even more vulnerable. The detention of people who come to the United States in search of safety, those who are entitled to fair consideration of their claims under international norms and U.S. law, is dehumanizing and does not reflect our Catholic faith’s commitment to human rights.
We also join KBI in expressing our concern that rapidly increasing border enforcement without sufficient training and accountability does not increase safety and security. As noted in our 2015 report, Our Values on the Line, more than one in three deported migrants reported mistreatment or abuse by Border Patrol agents, and the drastic increase in hiring without proper screening and training was identified as an important contributing factor. KBI's continued documentation of violations to migrants' rights demonstrates a systemic lack of accountability for migrants' rights.
We are disheartened by President Trump's announced plans to escalate detention and deportation, to impose on local law enforcement responsibility to participate in these harmful processes, and to penalize localities that do not. In the communities we serve across the United States, we witness the way that detention and deportation break down trust, sow fear and tear families apart. We stand for the dignity of each person, for family unity and for the full participation of all in our communities.
In the words of Pope Francis, "All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity." These executive orders, far from promoting good and respecting dignity, will inflict harm and further divisions. Today we reaffirm our solidarity with our migrant sisters and brothers. We call upon all people of faith to join us in lifting your voices and asking elected officials to act with conscience.