The Kino Border Initiative urges the Senate, House, and President to quickly pass and sign legislation to reopen the government and ensure that federal workers, including many in our community in southern Arizona, receive the pay that they deserve. However, as a Catholic and Jesuit institution, the Kino Border Initiative believes that resolution of the shutdown should not come at the expense of our moral and religious imperative to maintain family unity and protect vulnerable individuals fleeing violence.
We find the Administration’s proposal and the Senate legislation introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unacceptable because it does not uphold our moral and religious values. The legislation would strip access to asylum for children and youth who arrive to the US/Mexico border and instead require that they apply from regional processing centers. While the Kino Border Initiative supports opportunities for minors to apply for protection without making the dangerous journey through Mexico, the proposal in the legislation would effectively exclude most minors in need of safe haven because of limits on the number that can qualify and the elimination of due process. Moreover, it requires that minors have a US parent or guardian in order to qualify for status.
Just as we are concerned about children fleeing violence, we at KBI also receive on a daily basis mothers and fathers who have lived for over a decade in the US but are ripped away from their US-born children through deportation. Because of our concern for the sanctity of the family, we oppose the proposed Senate legislation, which, by providing funds for detention beds and additional agents, would enable Immigration and Customs Enforcement to separate even more families. The Catholic Church has a special concern for people fleeing violence and immigrant families because Jesus Christ was himself a refugee and an immigrant. As such, we oppose the legislation introduced by Senate Majority Leader McConnell and urge our political leaders to reopen the government without threatening the safety and dignity of our migrant brothers and sisters.