The bishop of El Paso Texas, Mark J. Seitz, has published a blistering “pastoral letter” denouncing President Trump’s border wall as a “monument to hate” and a symbol of exclusion and racism.
Pulling no punches, Bishop Seitz writes that xenophobia is “ravaging the United States” in a desperate effort by Caucasians to shore up white privilege and perpetuate “institutionalized racism.”
This racism targets Latinos in a particular way, the bishop writes in his letter titled “Night Will Be No More,” and although “this hatred of Latinos is not new,” the grave racism directed at Latinos today “has reached a dangerous fever pitch.”
“Ancient demons have been reawakened and old wounds opened,” he proposes, and this racism shows itself in an acute way in the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
“Our highest elected officials have used the word ‘invasion’ and ‘killer’ over 500 times to refer to migrants, treated migrant children as pawns on a crass political chessboard, insinuated that judges and legislators of color are un-American, and have made wall-building a core political project,” the bishop asserts, and while the wall precedes Mr. Trump, he has made it a central plank of his platform.
“The wall is a powerful symbol in the story of race,” he adds. “It has helped to merge nationalistic vanities with racial projects.”
The wall “is not just a tool of national security,” Seitz claims. “More than that, the wall is a symbol of exclusion, especially when allied to an overt politics of xenophobia. It is an open wound through the middle of our sister cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez.”
“The wall deepens racially charged perceptions of how we understand the border as well as Mexicans and migrants. It extends racist talk of an ‘invasion’. It perpetuates the racist myth that the area south of the border is dangerous and foreign and that we are merely passive observers in the growth of narco-violence and the trafficking of human beings and drugs,” he says.
“The wall is a physical reminder of the failure of two friendly nations to resolve their internal and bi-national issues in just and peaceful way,” he continues.
“The wall kills families and children. There will be a day when after this wall has come crumbling down we will look back and remember the wall as a monument to hate,” he concludes.
Those who support the wall are propagating racist attitudes, moved by an unconfessed disdain for people of color, he suggests.
“If we are honest, racism is really about advancing, shoring up, and failing to oppose a system of white privilege and advantage based on skin color,” he writes. “When this system begins to shape our public choices, structure our common life together and becomes a tool of class, this is rightly called institutionalized racism.”
“Action to build this system of hate and inaction to oppose its dismantling are what we rightly call white supremacy,” he states.
In conclusion, the bishop appeals to President Trump and officials of the other two branches of the federal government to stop deporting those who enter the country illegally and to open the borders to refugees.
“In the absence of immigration reform, I also renew my appeal to the President of the United States, to the Members of Congress and to the jurists of our highest Courts,” he declares. “I beg you to listen to the voice of conscience and halt the deportation of all those who are not a danger to our communities, to stop the separation of families, and to end once and for all the turning back of refugees and death at the border.”