Statement from Bishop da Cunha on the Separation of Families at the U.S. Border

STATEMENT ON THE SEPARATION OF FAMILIES AT THE U.S. BORDER
Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V.
June 20, 2018

“Since early May of this year, newly implemented U.S. immigration policy has ordered the separation of families immediately after their being taken into custody at the US/Mexico border. While the parent(s) are placed in the custody of U.S. Marshalls, the children are declared “unaccompanied” and placed in the Office of Refugee Resettlement within U.S. Health and Human Services.  Recent news reports indicate that over 2,000 children have been separated from their parent(s) or guardian(s).

To forcibly separate children from their mothers and fathers in these cases is cruel; to use children as instruments of deterrence is not just.

As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement urging the Administration to keep families together, “Rupturing the bond between parent and child causes scientifically-proven trauma that often leads to irreparable emotional scarring. Accordingly, children should always be placed in the least restrictive setting: a safe, family environment, ideally with their own families.”

It is surely the right and responsibility of our government to secure our borders. Yet, effective immigration policies need not be hostile to families. They should not be designed to tear apart families or separate parent from child as a punitive measure.   Rather, they should uphold the foundational role of family in society.

Families seeking entry into the country at the US/Mexico border usually do so at great risk, fleeing crime, violence and hopeless poverty at home. Like so many immigrants before them, they come in pursuit of a better life for their children, and in many cases to save their lives.

I urge our faithful people to pray for the immigrants, for a just and permanent solution to the immigration issues, for actions in Congress to address the immigration questions and for compassion on the part of authorities as they deal with the difficult situation of the many immigrants.”

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