By Vatican News
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has submitted formal comments on proposed rules on asylum. The new regulations were issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Justice on 15 June; and concerned parties were invited to present comments by 15 July.
“The U.S. Catholic Church holds a strong and pervasive pastoral interest in the welfare of migrants, including asylum seekers, and welcomes newcomers from around the world,” the Bishops write. The mission of assisting immigrants, they continued, “stems from the belief that every person is created in God’s image and all are deserving of human dignity.”
Grave policy concerns
In their comments, published on the USCCB website on 14 July, the Bishops say, “We believe this Rule, which attempts to curtail our nation’s long-standing commitment to providing individuals and families with humanitarian protection, is not only unlawful, but contrary to the public interest.” They argue that the Rule is contrary to domestic and international law, and would be a violation of the United States’ international legal obligations.
They argue that the Rule “also presents grave public policy concerns.” In particular, the Bishops say the Rule “fails to protect asylum seekers from persecution,” and undermines the U.S. role “as a traditional leading provider of humanitarian protection in the global community.”
Asylum seekers are children of God
The US Bishops insist that “given their vulnerability, asylum seekers arriving at our border deserve and need our protection and compassion,” adding, “we must remember that they are fellow children of God.”
They argue that the proposed rule is “unlawful and unjust” and should therefore be rescinded.
In a statement published on the USCCB website on Tuesday, Bishop Mario Dorsonville, the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, said, “These proposed asylum regulations will have devastating consequences for those seeking protection in the United States who are fleeing domestic violence or persecution from gangs in their home countries.”
Bishop Dorsonville notes that the Church “teaches us to look at the root causes of migration, poverty, violence, and corruption.”
He recalled the teaching of Pope Francis, who “reminds us that ‘we must . . . keep our eyes open ..., keep our hearts open ..., to remind everyone of the indispensable commitment to save every human life, a moral duty that unites believers and non-believers,’” adding, “We cannot turn on our backs on the vulnerable.”