Just Gospel: U.S. Bishops’ Suggestions on Immigration Enforcement Policies

Paul Keggington

February 13, 2014

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister KathleenMurphy continues a series on Immigration, a journey through U. S. Bishops’ document Strangers No Longer re: Enforcement Policies.

Our journey through the Bishops’ statement,  Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope continues.  It is good for us to be reminded of the fact that this statement is the joint work of the U.S. Bishops as well as the Bishops of Mexico.  This assures us of a balanced view on the needs of the most invested groups in this issue.  We continue to look at the Bishops’ policy recommendations.

Enforcement PoliciesImmigration Pilgrimage photo by Fred Gaber Madison, WI

* Alarmingly, migrants often are treated as criminals by civil enforcement authorities. Misperceptions and racist attitudes in both the United States and Mexico contribute to an atmosphere in which undocumented persons are discriminated against and abused. Reports of physical abuse of migrants by U.S. Border Patrol agents, the Mexican authorities and, in some cases, U.S. and Mexican residents, are all too frequent, including the use of excessive force and the shackling of migrants hands and feet.

* In order to address these excesses, both governments must create training mechanisms that instruct enforcement agents in the use of appropriate tactics for enforcing immigration law. We urge the U.S. and Mexican governments to include human rights curricula in their training regimens so that immigration enforcement personnel are more sensitive to the handling of undocumented migrants.

* We urge both the U.S. and Mexican enforcement authorities to abandon the type of strategies that give rise to smuggling operations and migrant deaths. Care should be taken not to push migrants to routes in which their lives may be in danger. We also urge more concerted efforts to root out smuggling enterprises at their source using a wide range of intelligence and investigative tactics.

The Bishops’ points call us to prayer for those in law enforcement as well as those who are often pursued and/or mistreated.  Let us pray for those who seek to avoid abuse and suffer, perhaps even die on desert tracks which never lead them to freedom.  Let us pray for those who have sworn themselves to providing safety on the borders, but are sometimes attacked or threatened in their efforts.  Let us truly pray for justice for all and for wisdom in our lawmakers.

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