The Committee on Migration of the US Catholic Bishops urges Congress to work on bipartisan legislation more in keeping with the nation´s tradition of welcome

WASHINGTON D.C.-On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB)  Msgr. Mark J. Seitz  bishop of El Paso and chairman  of the Committee on Migration has written a letter expressing  “our strong opposition to H.R. 2, the “Secure the Border Act of 2023 (H.R.2)”,  a Republican border security package to be voted on by the House of Representatives on Thursday May 11 – the same day the Covid Title 42 policy,  that enabled the US to expel certain migrants, is set to expire.

The letter urges the “drafting of bipartisan legislation that is more in keeping with our nation’s rich tradition of welcome.” 

Bishop  Seitz clearly says that if  enacted, “this measure would fundamentally weaken our nation’s decades-long commitment to humanitarian protection”. 

H.R .2, sets in place some of the border programs implemented by  former President Trump  that included the “Remain in Mexico” policy, while going through the asylum process. It also proposes to pour more resources into security at the southern border.

The long US Border with Mexico

The provisions of the Secure border Act, the USCC letter says “would endanger unaccompanied children and inflict harm on other vulnerable persons, decimate access to asylum, mandate damaging detention and removal practices, restrict access to legal employment, limit—and potentially eliminate—federal partnerships with faith-based and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), undermine the rule of law, and more”. 

 At the same time the bishop clearly says that “we do not question the good intentions of lawmakers who seek to enact legislation that would secure our nation’s borders” and, he also stresses that  “humane border management must include meaningful access to humanitarian protection and respect for the God-given dignity of migrants”. 

As in previous statements, the letter defends that “only through a long-term commitment to addressing root causes and promoting integral human development throughout the Americas, combined with an overhaul of our immigration system, will we be able to achieve the conditions necessary to sustainably reduce irregular migration”.

All this comes as the U.S. is preparing for the end of Title 42,  May 11, with the end of the public health emergency caused by Covid19

Since the announcement, about 8,000 have been trying to cross the border and the number is expected to grow to 10,000 once Title 42 is lifted. ( For images of migrants at the US South Border see CNN Reports)

The situation is  “challenging, dangerous and difficult” according to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas who visited Brownsville, Texas recently. He insists that federal officials have long been preparing and  that the government is ready.

After May 11, migrants  crossing the border unlawfully will be barred from entering the US for at least five years.  If they cross the border without first applying for asylum  they will be deported and they may face criminal prosecution. 

The objective is that individuals who access the lawful pathways that will be in place will be able to enter the United States “in a safe and orderly way,” according to Mayorkas.

To enable this, centers are being established   in Colombia and Guatemala – two countries migrants often pass through on their way to the US-Mexico border,  with 30,000 slots per month open to applicants.

These measures are already facing criticism from immigrants’ rights groups because as they say  “the right to apply for asylum on U.S. soil is sacrosanct”. 

You may download the full letter from the USCC Committee on Migration

To vote against H.R. 2 and support the drafting of bipartisan legislation use this link