January 27, 2017
In fulfilling his campaign pledges, President Donald Trump has recently signed executive orders
that will dramatically alter the refugee program in the United States, build an expansive new
border wall on our boundary with Mexico, and heighten immigration detention. This is not
something that is unexpected or surprising; he is doing exactly what he said he would do during
the election. However, it is truly disheartening and profoundly disappointing to see these actions
ultimately come to fruition.
While being promoted as a response to safety concerns in this country, these are unprecedented
announcements that will punish the majority of immigrants who want to come to America — the
land of the free — for a better future.
In a letter sent to President Trump prior to his inauguration, Pope Francis wrote, “Under your
leadership, may America’s stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor,
the outcast and those in need who, like Lazarus, stand before our door.” The faithful must
continue to pray for wisdom for our country’s leaders; that their decisions are guided by spiritual
and ethical values, especially, our Holy Father states, “At a time when our human family is beset
by grave humanitarian crises demanding far-sighted and united political responses.”
Over the past several months, we have seen the fear and heard the heart-wrenching stories from
many families who may be impacted by these initiatives. They have approached us and we have
been spending time talking to them, comforting them the best we can, and praying for them
constantly. They don’t know what’s going to happen; if parents are going to be separated from
their children. We share in their pain and sadness.
Our archdiocese and Catholic Charities agency, along with other groups and dioceses across the
country, will continue to stand in solidarity with refugees, immigrants, and their families. We
will work for responsible and comprehensive immigration reform. All agree that change needs to
take place, but it must be carried out in a humane manner which respects the dignity of the
human person. Certainly concerns about security must be strongly addressed, but not through
political measures which do more harm than goo.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a working group to closely monitor executive
memoranda and legislation on immigration, and we will both be working closely with other
bishops — as well as leaders from other faith communities — on these issues in the days, weeks,
and months ahead. I (Archbishop Gustavo), will be especially involved through my role as
chairman of the USCCB Committee on Cultural Diversity. We cannot escape our responsibilities
to the poor and vulnerable who are desperately fleeing their countries to escape violence.
While acknowledging the rights of the nation, we are also called to compassion for the weak and
those in need. Let us pray that all in our nation will be filled with that compassion and concern
for the stranger.