A U.S. bishop charged with addressing immigration issues has raised objections to a July 26 announcement from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that it would begin "expedited removal" proceedings, or fast-tracking deportations, of some immigrant families who entered the U.S. illegally and do not qualify for asylum.
In an Aug. 7 statement, Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, called on the Biden administration to "reverse course" on the fast-track removals but also on other recent measures being used to stem immigration.
"Let us work together as a nation to welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants according to their God-given dignity," said Dorsonville in the statement, which also objected to a public health measure that expels migrants at the border, with the exception of minors, citing COVID-19 concerns.
The measure, known as Title 42, is a provision of U.S. public health law and was activated by the Trump administration. The Biden administration has kept it in place, saying it has done so under the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep the pandemic at bay as the nation experiences a surge of the Delta variant.
"Mindful of public health concerns, we encourage policies supported by sound scientific rationales and oppose those with a disparate impact on families, children and other vulnerable populations," Dorsonville said.
Immigration advocates had expected Title 42 to be lifted for families at the end of July but that didn't happen. Instead, the administration said because of the increase in migrants and the lack of facilities to welcome them while having enough room to keep everyone safe, it was necessary to continue listening to the CDC's guidance.
Catholic organizations and bishops have argued for allowing migrant families in, saying they face an array of dangers.
"In this Year of St. Joseph, we pray for the patron of families to intercede on behalf of vulnerable migrant families, especially those traveling with children and the elderly," said Dorsonville.
The bishop also praised efforts by the Biden administration to make vaccinations more accessible to migrants on the border, "which is critical to limiting the spread of COVID-19."