WASHINGTON — Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, says that President Donald J. Trump’s latest executive order still puts vulnerable populations around the world at risk:

“We remain deeply troubled by the human consequences of the revised executive order on refugee admissions and the travel ban. While we note the administration’s efforts to modify the executive order in light of various legal concerns, the revised order still leaves many innocent lives at risk.

“The removal of one of the original seven predominantly Muslim countries temporarily barred from entering the United States is welcome, but we are disappointed that the revised order maintains the temporary shutdown of the U.S. refugee admissions program, continues the more than 60 percent reduction in the number of refugees who can be resettled into the United States this year, and still temporarily bars nationals from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

“The U.S. Catholic Bishops have long recognized the importance of ensuring public safety and would welcome reasonable and necessary steps to accomplish that goal. However, based on the knowledge that refugees are already subjected to the most vigorous vetting process of anyone who enters the United States, there is no merit to pausing the refugee resettlement program while considering further improvement to that vetting process.

“The United States has long provided leadership in resettling refugees. We believe in assisting all those who are vulnerable and fleeing persecution, regardless of their religion, including Christians, Muslims, and all others. We believe that by helping to resettle the most vulnerable, we are living out our Christian faith and “welcoming the stranger” as Jesus has challenged us to do.”

Wisconsin bishops’ immigration letter

Wisconsin bishops signed a letter in 2011 discussing issues related to immigration. A brief excerpt from the letter, which was recirculated this month:

“Most Americans recognize that we are a nation of immigrants. At the same time, many are deeply troubled that millions of immigrants reside in the U.S. without legal authorization. We too share this concern; obeying laws is essential to any stable society.

“As Americans, however, we have to acknowledge that some of our foreign and domestic policies and practices have contributed to the illegal entry of immigrants.

“Our nation’s incessant demand for inexpensive goods and services is one of the driving forces behind the export of American jobs and the hiring of immigrant workers. Our nation is a magnet for immigrants because there is work here and because of the international disparity in wages.

“Our aging population needs younger workers. Entire economic sectors – service, construction, agriculture – would falter without immigrant labor. Here in Wisconsin, our dairy industry relies heavily on immigrants.

“The tremendous economic pull overwhelms our inadequate immigration system, and our failure to reform the system effectively ensures illegal entry.”

The bishops go on to ask Catholics to pray for immigrants, educate themselves and others about the need for immigration reform, reject legislation that unfairly discriminates against immigrants, and reach out to immigrants “and begin building communities of hope.”

Catholics at the Capitol

Wisconsin Catholics wishing to weigh in on migration and immigration, as well as other current issues, can attend Catholics at the Capitol March 28.

Human trafficking is the topic of this year’s keynote address, although many other relevant issues will be discussed, including criminal justice reform. Dan Blank, director of administrative services for the Diocese of Superior, will lead a session on reducing recidivism.

Bishop James P. Powers plans to attend the daylong event.

Registration begins at 8:45 a.m., followed by morning sessions at 9:45 a.m. Sessions conclude at 3:15 p.m., after which attendees are encouraged to visit their legislators.
Cost to attend the event, which is held at Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, Madison, is $40 per person and $12 for students who register by March 20, or $50 after that date.

The Wisconsin Catholic Conference is sponsoring the event. For information or to register, call 608-257-0004 or visit www.wisconsincatholic.org.