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Statement of Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R. National Catholic Day of Action for Immigrant Children St. Mary Parish / Federal Building

September 5, 2019

Today I stand in solidarity with my fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ to decry the treatment of our children who bear the trauma wrought by immigration enforcement raids, separation from their families and indeterminate detention. These draconian measures are NOT a solution to our broken immigration system. They are a violation of human dignity and are contrary to religious teachings and the sacred call to care for our most vulnerable populations. Psalm 1:27 tells us that children are always a blessing. We must protect them.

So-called deterrence policies do not address the underlying causes of irregular migration, which are much stronger than any deterrent that a government can erect.

Jesus asks His disciples to go further, calling on us to recognize Him in the stranger: “Whatsoever you did to the least of my brothers, you did to me” (Mt. 25:40).

I am the grandson of immigrants and raised in a multicultural neighborhood in southwest Detroit. I am an American and understand the federal government should continue a prudent policy aimed at protecting its citizens with safe borders. As a Catholic priest and bishop in the United States I also understand that we must heed the call of God, who through Moses told the people of Israel: “You shall not oppress an alien; you well know how it feels to be an alien, since you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt” (Ex 23:9). Children are not to be separated from their families, incarcerated in their own filth, denied proper medical care and permitted to die from neglect.

Here in Newark, Catholic Charities, assisted by parishes and parishioners of the Archdiocese, has helped refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to resettle and comply with the stringent requirements of the vetting process that is coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security. We hope to welcome others who seek to better their lives.

I ask all Catholics and others of good will to contact their local, state, and federal elected officials and urge them not to manipulate these families as political pawns. As a nation, we must come together for immigration reform which defends “the family,” protects human dignity and the sacredness of life.

“Whoever keeps the word of Christ, the love of God is truly perfected in him” (1 JN 2:5).