American Catholics have joined other faith leaders in calling for an end to a controversial asylum policy introduced by the Trump administration.
The faith leaders condemned Trump’s policy of turning away asylum-seekers who have not first sought protection in countries en route to the United States.
“The rule fails to understand or acknowledge the realities of asylum-seekers’ journeys and the lack of options they have been left with,” they said in a joint public comment signed by 260 faith organisations and leaders on August 15.
The current interim rule, Asylum Eligibility and Procedural Modifications, was published on July 15 by the Trump administration.
It “provide(s) that, with limited exceptions, an alien who enters or attempts to enter the United States across the southern border after failing to apply for protection in a third country outside the alien’s country of citizenship, nationality, or last lawful habitual residence through which the alien transited en route to the United States is ineligible for asylum.”
The rule “puts people fleeing for their lives at risk of further harm, is inconsistent with our nation’s historic and moral commitment to human rights and violates existing asylum law,” the faith leaders said.
Several US Catholic organisations signed the public comment, including CLINIC, the Cabrini Immigrant Services of New York City, the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Mary and Pax Christi USA.
The comment highlighted the dangers faced by asylum seekers.
“No one flees their home or country by choice,” they said. “Asylum journeys are incredibly dangerous as people may have little or no access to food, clean water, health care, appropriate shoes or clothing. The requirement to apply for asylum in another country before seeking asylum in the U.S. will add time and risk to people already facing these desperate situations.”
Quoting directly from the Bible, the Torah and the Quran, the faith leaders recalled “longstanding U.S. principles” to be “a beacon of hope for those in need of safety and security.”
“Our request (for the rule to be ended) is rooted in morality, humanity, and the teachings of our faiths: we must welcome, protect, and offer hospitality to those in need,” they said.
Catholic Charities agencies, several orders of women religious and individual religious sisters joined rabbis, ministers, Islamic and interfaith groups in calling for an end to the rule.
Picture: Salvadoran migrant Jose cries as he and his daughter embrace on July 31 2019. After returning from the U.S. to Nuevo Laredo in Mexico under the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, they must wait for their court hearing for asylum-seekers in Monterrey, Mexico. (CNS photo/Daniel Becerril, Reuters)