Amid the attempts of the Trump administration to crack down on undocumented immigrants residing in the United States, Catholic bishops have vowed to be more proactive in mapping out a clearer vision when it comes to pushing for a comprehensive immigration reform.
On Wednesday, June 14, Catholic bishops gathered in Indianapolis for their annual spring meeting, where they discussed several relevant political issues of the day. Among those that they discussed are the pressing concerns over immigration, which is a topic that has become a source of great tension between the White House and the Catholic leaders for the past several months.
According to America magazine, the head of the bishops' migration committee, Bishop Joe Vasquez, mentioned in his report to his fellow bishops at the meeting that it has become the objective of church leaders "to move beyond simple reaction to the various negative proposals we have seen lately."
For the past few months, several Christian groups took it upon themselves to provide sanctuaries for undocumented residents, assuring to provide them shelter should they fear deportation.
However, Catholic leaders have yet to largely do the same, as they feel that they have no legal footing to initiate similar moves. Moreover, to risk providing sanctuaries would ultimately result in doing nothing more than instilling false hopes and a misplaced sense of security to undocumented immigrants.
Catholic organizations have instead chosen to aid undocumented immigrants in pursuing legal avenues that could offer them temporary relief from getting deported out of the country.
Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, however, expressed his worry that these legal avenues have increasingly become more difficult to utilize with the Trump administration supposedly blocking such options. He wondered if it is time for the U.S. bishops to seriously consider offering sanctuary to undocumented individuals.
"We know that for many people who would be deported, they would be going back, I think, very realistically, to a possible death and other kinds of realities," the archbishop said.
Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento cautioned against the suggestion as the sanctuary movement will not be a sustainable and long-term solution that will help the immigrant community of the country to be incorporated as fellow citizens of the United States.
Within Trump's first 100 days, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) revealed that it made as many as 41,000 administration arrests, which is a 38% increase to last year's figures around the same time. Out of this number, 10,800 of the arrests made were of noncriminal undocumented immigrants.