North, Central America bishops speak on immigration concerns

From the media office of the U.S. bishops' conference.


WASHINGTON -- Catholic bishops of the North and Central American region and the Caribbean, who are in charge of the pastoral care of migrants, gathered in San Jose, Costa Rica, June 1-3, 2011. A joint declaration after the meeting was made public June 30. The prelates, representing the bishops’ conferences of the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panamá, Honduras and Guatemala, as well as CELAM (Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Latin America) and CARITAS International gathered to express solidarity and concern over the plight of immigrants in the Hemisphere. They were joined by religious and lay experts on issues of migration.

“We continue to witness great suffering among migrants in our countries and regions, who are the victims of exploitation and abuse from various elements of society (public officials, unscrupulous employers and criminal organizations),” the bishops of the region said in their statement. “We again call upon our governments to take responsibility for the legal protection of migrants, including those searching for work, asylum-seekers, refugees, and victims of human trafficking. We ask for special protection for families, women and children.”

At the meeting, the bishops reflected on a variety of issues, including the increased violence against and kidnapping of migrants by organized crime, the increase in deportations between the United States and Mexico, the tragedy of human trafficking, growing economic inequality, the effects of globalization and the increasing threats to agents of the Pastoral Care of Migrants. They also urged continued support for the recovery of Haiti from the January 2010 earthquake, including putting a stop to deportations of Haitians in irregular situation within their countries.

The bishops made an appeal to their respective governments to change or abolish, “those laws that cause the separation of migrant families, arbitrary detention and threats to life”.

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Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, of Little Rock, Arkansas, represented the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services at the meeting.

Full text of the joint statement, including participating bishops, can be found at: A Spanish version is also posted:

To see all of NCR's coverage of immigration, see our new blog: Immigration and the Church. To receive a weekly e-mail update with highlights from the blog, follow this link to the sign-up page. If you already receive e-mail alerts from NCR, add Immigration and the Church to your profile.


Spanish version follows.



WASHINGTON—Obispos católicos de Norte y Centro América así como del Caribe que están al cargo del cuidado pastoral de las personas migrantes en sus respectivos países, se reunieron en San José, Costa Rica, del 1 al 3 de junio. Tras la reunión se elaboró una declaración conjunta que se ha hecho pública el 30 de junio. Los obispos, que acudieron en representación de las conferencias episcopales de Estados Unidos, México, Costa Rica, Panamá, Honduras y Guatemala, así como del CELAM (Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano) y CARITAS Internacional, se reunieron para expresar su solidaridad y preocupación sobre la situación de los emigrantes en el hemisferio. Estuvieron acompañados por expertos en asuntos migratorios religiosos y laicos.

“Testigos del gran sufrimiento que viven las personas migrantes de nuestros países y regiones, quienes son víctimas de explotación y abuso por parte de varios actores (funcionarios públicos, empleadores sin escrúpulos y organizaciones criminales), nuevamente exigimos a nuestros gobiernos hacerse responsables de la protección legal a los y las migrantes, incluyendo a quienes buscan trabajo, solicitan asilo, refugio y han sido víctimas de trata de personas”, afirmaron los obispos en la declaración. “Pedimos especial atención y protección para familias, mujeres y niños”.

En la reunión, los obispos reflexionaron sobre diversos asuntos, incluyendo: el incremento de la violencia en los secuestros de las personas migrantes por parte del crimen organizado; el incremento en las deportaciones entre Estados Unidos y México; la tragedia de la trata de personas; el crecimiento de la inequidad económica; los efectos de la globalización en las personas; y el incremento en las amenazas a agentes de la Pastoral de Migrantes en su carácter de defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos. También urgieron a la continua colaboración para la recuperación de Haití, tras el terremoto de enero de 2010. Esto incluye detener las deportaciones de haitianos en situación irregular en los países representados.

Asimismo, los obispos hicieron un llamado a sus respectivos gobiernos a cambiar o abolir leyes “injustas e inhumanas…que provocan la separación de familias migrantes, detenciones arbitrarias y amenazas a la vida”.

El obispo, Anthony B. Taylor de Little Rock, Arkansas, representó al Servicio de Migrantes y Refugiados (Migration and Refugee Services o MRS) de los obispos estadounidenses en la reunión.

El texto completo de la declaración conjunta puede encontrarse en español en:; y en inglés en:

To see all of NCR's coverage of immigration, see our new blog: Immigration and the Church. To receive a weekly e-mail update with highlights from the blog, follow this link to the sign-up page. If you already receive e-mail alerts from NCR, add Immigration and the Church to your profile.

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