U.S. Bishops Condemn Plans to Reduce Refugee Resettlement

Venezuelan citizens cross the Simon Bolivar international bridge from San Antonio del Tachira in Venezuela to Norte de Santander province of Colombia on February 10, 2018. Oil-rich and once one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America, Venezuela now faces economic collapse and widespread popular protest. / AFP PHOTO / …
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ROME — The head of the U.S. bishops’ immigration committee said the Trump administration’s proposal to significantly reduce the refugee resettlement program goes “against the principles we have as a nation and a people.”

In reaction to reports that the administration is considering “zeroing out” the refugee resettlement program, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, issued a statement this weekend denouncing the move.

Bishop Vásquez said that the measure is “disturbing” and “has the potential to end the refugee resettlement program entirely.”

“The world is in the midst of the greatest humanitarian displacement crisis in almost a century,” the bishop said in his statement.

“I strongly oppose any further reductions of the refugee resettlement program,” he said.

Vásquez said that welcoming refugees is a key component of what makes America “great.”

“Offering refuge to those fleeing religious and other persecution has been a cornerstone of what has made this country great and a place of welcome,” he said. “Eliminating the refugee resettlement program leaves refugees in harm’s way and keeps their families separated across continents.”

The bishop also suggested that the current vetting process for refugees already provides for national security.

“Every refugee resettled in the United States goes through an extensive vetting process that often takes 18 months to two years to complete,” he said, adding that the procedure “incorporates live interviews and several extensive checks by multiple departments within the government.”

“As Pope Francis has said we must work for ‘globalization of solidarity’ with refugees, not a globalization of indifference,” the bishop said.

“Rather than ending the program, we should work instead to restore the program to its historic norms of an annual resettlement goal of 95,000,” he concluded.

On Monday, the U.S. Bishops’ Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs announced the publication of a new Spanish/English guide titled “Creating a Culture of Encounter” to help Catholics “live out the call of Jesus to meet those on the peripheries with the Good News of the Gospel for their lives.”

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