US Catholic Bishops Celebrate National Migration Week: ‘No Such Thing As An Illegal Human Being’

Priest in Mexico/Catholicism
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is celebrating National Migration Week 2015 this week with the theme, “We are one family under God.”

According to a press release at the USCCB website, the event “provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the hardships faced by migrants, including children, refugees and victims of human trafficking.”

“We are all created equal in God’s image,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration. “There is no such thing as an illegal human being. During National Migration Week we should not only pray for our brothers and sisters who are marginalized but also advocate that protections are provided to them, for they need them most.”

The bishops’ conference has created a grant program, says the release, to assist Catholic parishes, schools and other groups with funding to “better integrate the Church’s teaching on migration into new or existing programs, materials, events and other activities.”

Those parishes that will be awarded grants will be named during National Migration Week.

“Migrants –including children, immigrants, refugees, and victims of human trafficking– are our spiritual brothers and sisters,” Elizondo said. “They often find themselves isolated, alone and separated from family, their ability to live out their lives in fullness severely restricted. Often family members are separated from one another because of deportation, detention, or related immigration laws that inhibit family reunification.”

The press statement indicates that during National Migration Week, which began 25 years ago, the Church sets apart “a time for prayer and action to try and ease the struggles of immigrants, migrants and vulnerable populations coming to America and a time for reflection on the church’s call to ‘welcome the stranger.’”

Justice for Immigrants, an affiliate of the Catholic bishops conference, seeks to educate the Catholic community, “including Catholic public officials about Church teaching on migration and immigrants,” and “to enact legislative and administrative reforms based on the principles articulated by the bishops.”

A webinar titled “Understanding the President’s Executive Actions on Immigration,” is offered on the Justice for Immigrants website. In addition, the organization urges Catholics and advocacy networks to call Congress with the message, “Please do not repeal the Executive Action on immigration and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”