The week before Pope Francis’s visit, Father Sean Carroll, KBI Executive Director, traveled to Washington to participate in a congressional staff briefing organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and share the findings of a study conducted at the KBI, Our Values on the Line: Migrant Abuse and Family Separation at the Border (more about this jointly-published report from the KBI and the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S. in the following article). A week later, as the Pope arrived in the U.S., an essay by Father Sean appeared in Politico.
In “A Church Without Borders” (the title derived from a line in the pope’s January letter to the KBI), Father Sean reflects on the inhumanity of our current deportation process, outlines the distressing results of the study, and proposes changes to improve our system and the treatment of migrants. “Providing safe, dignified and humane repatriation, the purported goal of [Customs and Border Protection], is not rocket science,” he writes. “It happens when immigration authorities proactively exercise discretion and avoid practices that deliver cruel and inhumane consequences.” (Read the full article at: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/09/pope-francis-immigration.)
During the week of Pope Francis’s visit, KBI Director of Education and Advocacy Joanna Williams made the rounds of congressional offices with Shaina Aber, Policy Director of the Jesuit Conference, to share the results and recommendations of the Our Values on the Line report. For Joanna, it was a moving time to be in Washington at the same time as the pope, who has done so much to raise awareness about the plight facing migrants, refugees and displaced peoples. As she says, “It was a unique opportunity to share the experiences and struggles of our migrant brothers and sisters in the same week that Pope Francis called on Congress to view them as persons and listen to their stories. Our goal was and is to inform, educate and motivate the representatives who have the power to respond and enact humane, just, and workable policies on our borders.”