|"Current border policies treat migrants’ lives as cheap—allowing hundreds of migrants to die in our deserts each year, and deporting thousands more in dangerous ways that put their lives at risk," said Mary Small, assistant director for policy at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. Small advocated for humane immigration reform March 18 during a meeting with Obama Administration officials at the White House.|
(Washington, D.C.) March 19, 2014 —The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, joined by bishops on the border, will travel to Nogales, Ariz., March 30 to April 1 to tour the U.S.-Mexico border and celebrate Mass on behalf of the close to 6,000 migrants who have died in the U.S. desert since 1998.
The purpose of the trip is to highlight the human suffering caused by a broken immigration system, an aspect of the national immigration debate which is often ignored.
"Current border policies treat migrants’ lives as cheap—allowing hundreds of migrants to die in our deserts each year, and deporting thousands more in dangerous ways that put their lives at risk," said Mary Small, assistant director for policy at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. Small advocated for humane immigration reform March 18 during a meeting with Obama Administration officials at the White House.
"What we fail to remember in this debate is the human aspect of immigration -— that immigration is primarily about human beings, not economic or social issues," said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration. "Those who have died — and those deported each day — have the same value and innate God-given dignity as all persons, yet we ignore their suffering and their deaths."
The bishop's trip follows the example of Pope Francis, who, in his first trip outside of Rome, traveled to the Italian island of Lampedusa to remember African migrants who died attempting to reach Europe. During that trip, Pope Francis spoke about the "globalization of indifference" toward migrants and decried the "throwaway culture" that disposes of human beings in the pursuit of wealth.
"The U.S.-Mexico border is our Lampedusa,” Bishop Elizondo said. "Migrants in this hemisphere try to reach it, but often die in the attempt."
"We join the bishops in calling and praying for a system that instead recognizes and cherishes the value of each human life. Pope Francis has called us to reject this kind of throwaway culture; we demand that our lawmakers do the same," said Small.
"We exhibit our own indifference when we minimize or ignore this suffering and death, as if these people are not worth our attention. It degrades us as a nation," said Bishop Elizondo.
The bishops on the USCCB Committee on Migration will be joined by Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, and several border bishops. Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson will host the delegation.
"Hopefully by highlighting the harsh impact the system has on our fellow human beings, our elected officials will be moved to reform it," Bishop Elizondo said.
The Mass will be celebrated at 9 a.m. followed by a press conference at 10:30 a.m., April 1.
Nogales, Ariz. 85621
Jesuit Refugee Service and Humane Immigration Reform