SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will hold an emergency meeting with Central American prelates and Vatican officials on June 1-2 in Chicago to chart the course of the American Church’s response to immigration.
The meeting comes as parts of Latin America have been hit hard economically by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the emergence of political conflicts.
The meeting will include representatives from the Vatican Migrants and Refugees Section, Bishops from Central America and Mexico, as well as American Cardinals Blase J. Cupich of Chicago and Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, and the American Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, and Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington, among others.
The Archbishop of Los Angeles, José H. Gomez, president of the USCCB, is also expected to address the rally.
“We hope to draw attention to the fact that this is a problem for the whole church,” Bishop Seitz said in a May 26 telephone interview with Catholic News Service.
Dioceses across the country should ideally reflect on their response to migrants, finding ways to support those who come among them, because responding to vulnerable people is part of what the Gospel calls Christians to do, said Bishop Seitz.
“I think the church needs to have a clear teaching and a moral voice (on immigration), just like we do with abortion and other issues,” the bishop added.
Bill Canny, Executive Director of Migration and Refugee Services at the USCCB, said the Episcopal Conference as well as Catholic and other organizations that work with migrants are concerned that the quality of reception our country is receiving offer to these people is not a welcome quality. “
Unlike refugee resettlement, where agencies, with public and private funds, work together to integrate newcomers into a community, asylum seekers such as those who have arrived in increasing numbers at the southern border have received services they get at check-ins, ”but there are few services, Canny said in an interview with CNS on May 27.
Although they need legal support, they also need food, shelter and education, but they are often released into overcrowded and sometimes unsanitary conditions with relatives, Canny said, and receive little support to adapt to their new communities in the meantime. the long process of dealing with their cases.
There is also an urgent concern about what the panorama of asylum seekers in the country might look like if the Biden administration removed what was called Title 42 of the United States Code on the Governance of “Public Health and Health.” well-being ”.
The Trump administration used policy during the COVID-19 pandemic to order border patrol agents to deport anyone caught trying to enter the United States instead of treating them under the existing immigration law. It remained in place under the Biden administration.
Religious leaders called on officials to end it. While it’s hard to predict what will happen, some expect that if Title 42 goes, it could mean a greater influx of migrants.
“Our big concern is welcome with the eventual end of Title 42,” said Canny. “We will see asylum seekers leaving these countries all over the world to seek safety, to provide for families, to overcome gang violence. … We expect this to continue and it will be a continuing challenge. We want to discuss how we can meet this challenge. “
Meeting this challenge includes bringing in bishops from the so-called North Triangle of Central America – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – as well as from Mexico with their USCCB counterparts to share ideas and experiences of migration as well as possible solutions from the point of view of the country of origin of many migrants to the United States, establishing relationships with them.
“They have an enormous knowledge on the ground of these countries of origin and transit”, declared Mgr Seitz. “What we’re trying to do is see what we can do to help them tackle the causes of people leaving. The church says people have the right to migrate, but they also have the right to stay in their homes. “
Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute in El Paso, on a May 25 call with CNS, said the range of experiences speaks to the urgency the USCCB sees “for the church to raise a moral message as we emerge from the pandemic and the displacement of people. “
It is the first of the new ways of working beyond borders, shaping not only a regional but continental response to the consequences that will result from the toll of COVID-19 in the Americas, he said.
“It’s the church that says, ‘We have to meet this moment. How can we get the church to work across borders for greater collaboration? How can this be an opportunity for the church to come together to face the urgency of what is happening? ‘This is an opportunity for the church to welcome Christ abroad,’ he said.
The bishops ‘meeting comes days before U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Guatemala and Mexico on June 7 and 8. The visit is part of a plan to define US policy in the region, which aims to avoid migration, mainly from the Northern Triangle, by improving conditions for migrants at home.
However, an emerging wave of authoritarianism and continued corruption has cast a wrench into the vision President Joe Biden has given Harris.
Part of the plan the administration had proposed is to increase foreign aid to strengthen “home countries” by providing money for jobs, but also by getting rid of corruption. However, the administration recently announced that it was redirecting money from the US Agency for International Development to the Salvadoran government to “fear transparency and accountability.”
Government officials in El Salvador, as well as Honduras and Guatemala, have been in the sights of US officials for their links to drug trafficking and corruption.