Committee on Migration Chair Strongly Opposes Administration’s Announcement to Build a Wall at U.S.-Mexico Border, Increase Detention and Deportation Forces

January 26, 2017 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—PresidentDonald J. Trump today issued an executive order to construct a wall at theU.S./Mexico border, to significantly increase immigrant detention anddeportation, and to disregard the judgment of state andlocal law enforcement on how best to protect their communities.

The U.S./Mexicoborder, spanning approximately 2000 miles, already has roughly 700 miles offencing and barrier that was constructed under the George W. Bushadministration. In response to the decision to build a wall on theU.S./Mexico border, Bishop Joe Vasquez, Chair of the Committee of Migration andBishop of the Diocese of Austin, stated:

"I amdisheartened that the President has prioritized building a wall on our borderwith Mexico. This action will put immigrant lives needlessly in harm's way.Construction of such a wall will only make migrants, especially vulnerablewomen and children, more susceptible to traffickers and smugglers.Additionally, the construction of such a wall destabilizes the many vibrant andbeautifully interconnected communities that live peacefully along the border.Instead of building walls, at this time, my brother bishops and I will continueto follow the example of Pope Francis. We will "look to build bridges betweenpeople, bridges that allow us to break down the walls of exclusion andexploitation.'"

In regards tothe announcement of the planned surge in immigrant detention and deportationforces, Bishop Vasquez added:

"The announcedincrease in immigrant detention space and immigration enforcement activities isalarming. It will tear families apart and spark fear and panic in communities.While we respect the right of our federal government to control our borders and ensure security for all Americans,we do not believe that a large scale escalation of immigrant detention andintensive increased use of enforcement in immigrant communities is the way toachieve those goals. Instead, we remain firm in our commitment tocomprehensive, compassionate, and common-sense reform. We fear that thepolicies announced today will make it much more difficult for the vulnerable toaccess protection in our country. Everyday my brother bishops and I witness theharmful effects of immigrant detention in our ministries. We experience thepain of severed families that struggle to maintain a semblance of normal familylife. We see traumatized children in our schools and in our churches. Thepolicies announced today will only further upend immigrant families."

Moving forwardafter the announcement, Bishop Vasquez noted:

"We willcontinue to support and stand in solidarity with immigrant families. We remindour communities and our nation that these families have intrinsic value aschildren of God. And to all those impacted by today's decision, we are here towalk with you and accompany you on this journey."

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference ofCatholic Bishops, Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, border wall,sanctuary cities, undocumented, migrants, immigrants, Trump administration.U.S.-Mexico border

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