The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is celebrating National Migration Week from January 3-9, urging Catholics throughout the country to support policies that “welcome the stranger among us.”
The USCCB is using the theme of Matthew’s gospel – “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35) – as the foundation of the week’s celebration. Catholic parishes are urged to distribute bilingual prayer cards, to insert intentions into the Prayers of the Faithful during Mass which focus on human trafficking and the support and protection of migrants, and to use special prayers that focus on the struggles of migrants.
Regarding the case of the Syrian refugees, the bishops say:
The political and humanitarian crisis in Syria is a serious concern for the Catholic Church and the bishops of the United States…Pope Francis and the Catholic bishops have called on the U.S. government and the international community to provide support to both Syrian refugees fleeing violence and to countries that have been at the forefront of this humanitarian effort.
The bishops are urging “providing 100,000 annual resettlement slots for the most vulnerable refugees fleeing the Syria conflict,” and “designating an additional 100,000 refugees to be resettled in the U.S. from other countries.”
“Write…a letter to President Obama, urging him expand U.S. resettlement efforts of Syrian refugees who are fleeing unspeakable atrocities and violence,” the bishops urge as they also ask for donations to the Migrant Refugee Services’ (MRS) “Parishes Organized to Welcome Rufugees” program which works to provide sponsorships of “newly-arriving Syrian and other refugees.”
In a recent statement, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the USCCB, said:
I urge all Catholics in the United States and others of good will to express openness and welcome to these refugees, who are escaping desperate situations in order to survive. Regardless of their religious affiliation or national origin, these refugees are all human persons—made in the image of God, bearing inherent dignity, and deserving our respect and care and protection by law from persecution.
In a joint report of MRS, the USCCB, and the Center for Migration Studies, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, objects to the U.S. immigrant detention system as “a far cry from solidarity or communion.”
“It contributes to the misconception that immigrants are criminals and a threat to our unity, security and well-being,” he asserts. “It engenders despair, divides families, causes asylum-seekers to relive trauma, leads many to forfeit their legal claims, and fails to treat immigrants with dignity and respect.”
In their report, the leaders urge that “detention” not be used as a “central immigration ‘management’ tool,” but be replaced by “individualized custody hearings by immigration judges or judicial officers” at government expense.
“Any restrictions or conditions placed on released noncitizens should be the least restrictive, non-punitive means necessary to promote court appearances,” they write.
The report tells the story of “Esmeralda, a mother of three U.S.-citizen children” who was “placed in an ankle bracelet by ICE.”
The bracelet humiliated her and impeded her life, as it went off in public as she was shopping for groceries and caused a rash on her leg and increased her angst and sleeplessness. The ankle bracelet also reminded her that she could be separated from her children and family. In addition, she experienced harassment from an ICE officer, who asked her when she would go home and told her that staying in the U.S. would only hurt, not help, her family. Esmerelda asked for help from her local priest, who advocated on her behalf with lawmakers. Finally, one lawmaker from Congress showed concern and intervened to have her ankle bracelet removed. Esmerelda was given a new ICE officer. Since the ankle bracelet’s removal, Esmerelda has been much more active in her community and she cooks at her parish for special events. She is an active member of her parish and assists the priest with projects in the community.
As Breitbart News previously reported, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, and several other Christian “non-profits” have been found to be profiting from contracts with the federal government to resettle refugees in the United States.
According to Ann Corcoran, editor at Refugee Resettlement Watch, the USCCB is one of the nine primary refugee resettlement organizations – or VOLAGS, from “voluntary agency” – with about 450 affiliated organizations that are often run themselves by former refugees.
“The program has gradually shifted towards the resettlement of refugees from Muslim countries,” she notes. “Some individuals from Muslim countries are Christians or other minorities, but most are Muslims…The Muslim component decreased after 911, but today is back up to about 40% and is set to rise from here.”
In mid-December, State Department official Anne Richard testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, “Four percent of all the Syrians we have brought have been Christian or other minorities.”
As CNSNews.com reports, only 53 of the 2,184 Syrian refugees admitted to the United States since civil war broke in Syria in 2011 are Christians, while 2,098 are Muslims.
Corcoran also adds:
Assimilation is no longer a goal for any agency involved in refugee resettlement – government or private contractor. The private contractors’ engagement with the refugee is so short – less than 4 months in most cases, that nothing approaching assimilation could even be considered. The term “assimilation” is no longer a part of government lexicon and does not even occur in dozens of recent reports and papers generated about refugee resettlement. The operative term in vogue now is “integration” with its clear intent of maintenance of ethnic identity.
“Refugee resettlement is profitable to the organizations involved in it,” Corcoran maintains. “They receive money from the federal government for each refugee they bring over. They have almost no real responsibilities for these refugees. After 4 months the ‘sponsoring’ organization is not even required to know where the refugee lives.”