Related: Catholic issues, Civil & Human Rights, Social Justice Issues

Message to Congress: Free the Children!


children at border(photo credit, CNN screenshot)

I am sending the following message to all members of Congress — If you would like to join this message please use the comment box below to add your name and statement:

Message to Congress:  Free the Children!

Dear Senators and Congressional Representatives:

Congress must act immediately to end the separation of children from families and their consequent detainment in warehouses and tent cities at the southern border.   No law requires this cruel and inhumane government action, and fundamental moral principles demand an immediate end to this deeply disordered practice.  Respecting the integrity of the family is the essential value of a society built on principles of justice; to tear families apart to achieve political goals is characteristic of the most immoral tyrannical governments throughout human history. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has stated:

“Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”  (Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, President, USCCB)

The “zero tolerance” policy put into effect by the current administration just months ago, resulting in the separation and detention of nearly 2,000 children, has created an appalling human rights crisis at the border.  Using children to force policy choices is despicable, a form of child abuse that will have lifelong emotional ramifications for the children treated with so much cruelty.  Through its family separation actions at the border as well as its earlier recission of DACA protections for Dreamers, the current administration is abusing children precisely to gain political leverage to force Congress to bow to the will of the president on immigration policy including funding the border wall.  Such tactics should be anathema to any member of Congress with a conscience, and Congress must stand up to the hideous policies of the bully.

Congress must reject this unjust, abusive and corrupt assault on human life and dignity.  As Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley clearly states (his statement is reproduced in full below), “Immigration policy is a moral question that cannot be separated from decisions of what it is right and wrong, of justice and injustice. It is about respecting and reverencing the dignity of the human person.”

This nation was established with a resounding declaration that all people are created equal, and that the Creator bestowed on all human beings “…certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  To make sure that this nation could work to protect these rights, the Founders created a Constitutional system with an intentional balance of powers to make sure that no branch of government, especially the executive, could become a dictator.

The fundamental values of our nation, and the Constitutional design of our government with a balance of powers, makes it imperative that the Congress swear allegiance to no individual, that Congress act only in accord with the will of “We, the People.”  The clear majority of citizens are appalled by the practice of forcible separation of children from parents at the border, and the clear majority also want a permanent solution for Dreamers and all immigrants.  Immigration policy must be rooted in justice and fairness, not abuse of human beings.

Congress must act without delay to restore the detained children to their families, and to create a more just and humane immigration policy including restoration of DACA and basic protections for Dreamers.

President Patricia McGuire
Trinity Washington University

“Immigration policy presents many challenges for any country. Developing sound immigration policy that respects the needs of a nation and those of the international community is a complex and challenging process. It always involves reconciling domestic priorities and global demands, strategy and tactics, objectives and means. At its core, immigration policy is about people, young and old, alone or in families, often fearful and abandoned. Immigration policy is a moral question that cannot be separated from decisions of what it is right and wrong, of justice and injustice. It is about respecting and reverencing the dignity of the human person.

In the year 2018, the moral challenge of immigration is mounting for the United States. On too many occasions our government has taken a posture and established policy which is in principle and in practice hostile to children and families who are fleeing violence, gangs, and poverty. The policies have included limiting the number of refugees and immigrants we are willing to welcome in our country, ending Temporary Protective Status for families who are here, and refusing to restore DACA protection for those who have been among us for all or most of their lives. In the face of today’s global immigration crisis these choices fail to communicate a willingness to address the reality of widespread human suffering, and in many cases imminent danger, with compassion and care.

The cumulative effect of these policy decisions has now reached a critical moral juncture: by the order of the U. S. government, individuals with children and families with children who are seeking asylum at the southern border of the United States now have their children separated from their parents. The intent of this policy is clear: to discourage those seeking asylum by severing the most sacred human bond of parent and child. Children are now being used as a deterrent against immigrants who are appealing to us for asylum in order to protect themselves and their families. As disturbing as this fact is, the narrative of this development makes clear the misguided moral logic of the policy.

These individuals and families are fleeing documented violence, chaos and murder in the neighborhoods of Central America. The United States is now openly before the world using children as pawns to enforce a hostile immigration policy. This strategy is morally unacceptable and denies the clear danger weighing upon those seeking our assistance.

As a Catholic bishop, I support political and legal authority. I have always taught respect for the civil law and will continue to do so. But, I cannot be silent when our country’s immigration policy destroys families, traumatizes parents, and terrorizes children. The harmful and unjust policy of separating children from their parents must be ended.”



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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: