Migrants face increased enforcement at U.S. border

Migrants weigh heavy on the minds of the Good Shepherd family. Most notably the separation of immigrant children from their parents at the U.S. border.

Hundreds of “freedom warriors” from border states began rallying at the detention camps in Tornillo, Texas, in late June. Their aim has been to show the nation that people will not stand for the deportation methods of migrants. The rallies have been in response to the deportation force’s detention of over 1,500 immigrant minors.

This is President Donald Trump’s latest executive order. It allows for the separation of families across the country and increased interior enforcement.

Twenty miles outside of El Paso, Texas, along the U.S.-Mexico border, sits the Tornillo Port of Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility. The Trump Administration selected the encampment as the first site for temporary housing for the overflow of unaccompanied minors and the children of detained migrant parents, under the Administration’s new “zero-tolerance” policy. 

Good Shepherd response to executive order on migrants

On June 20, 2018, the U.S. Good Shepherd Sisters issued a statement regarding migrants to the President of the United States. The Circle of Provincials of North America signed the statement, along with National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd and the Good Shepherd NGO Special Consultative Status with ESOC, United Nations.

migrantsThe statement read in part:
“As people of faith and of conscience, the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd in the USA, the National Advocacy Center of the Good Shepherd Sisters, and the Good Shepherd International Justice Peace Office strongly condemn the United States’ policy reversing protections for asylum seekers fleeing domestic abuse and gang violence, and the “zero tolerance” policy that has resulted in the inhumane and deliberate separation of immigrant children and parents at the United States border.

“We call for an immediate end to these cruel and immoral policies, which have an especially harmful impact on migrant women and children. In the face of such egregious mistreatment of the most vulnerable seeking refuge in the United States, we cannot remain silent.”

The statement on migrants went on to say, “There is no justification for tearing children apart from their parents and keeping them in punitive conditions. The families and children impacted are among the most vulnerable, are often fleeing unspeakable violence and persecution in their home countries, and are not a threat to national security.”

The signers of the statement chastised the Trump Administration for incorrectly and repeatedly claiming that the policy on migrants is the “law.” In fact, the United States government has a responsibility under U.S. immigration law to hear a person’s immigration or asylum case, not to scare them away or prevent them from seeking protection.

Good Shepherd representatives further described how deterrence policies don’t work, as they fail to address the root causes that force migrants to leave their homes in the first place.

The signers also addressed how the policy puts families at extremely high risk of experiencing further rights violations.

“This policy is contrary to the values and principles of due process, solidarity, family unity and liberty that are embedded in U.S. law,” the statement reads.

Furthermore, the signed statement addresses how the Administration’s policy is a violation of the human rights of all migrants recognized under international law, including the right to migrate, the right to seek asylum, the rights of the child, and the right to family life.

It goes on to declare that detention causes physical and mental trauma and lifelong psychosocial and developmental problems.

“Community-based alternatives are more effective, more cost-efficient and better respect human rights,” the statement iterates.

migrants“The United States should pursue these alternative approaches that respect children’s and families’ fundamental rights to liberty, security, and human dignity,” the signers state.

The U.S. Good Shepherd family believes the Trump Administration’s policy is inhumane and goes against Catholic social teaching to love ones’ neighbor, welcome the stranger, and respect the human dignity of every person.

Those who signed the statement to President Trump were Sisters Frances Aguillon, U.S. Province Leader Central South Province; Maureen McGowan, U.S. Province Leader New York Province; and Madeleine Munday, U.S. Province Leader Mid-North America Province.

Other signers were Sister Winifred Doherty, Main NGO Representative to the United Nations, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd; and Lawrence Couch, Director of National Advocacy Center of Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

U.S. Sisters and Mission Partners are preparing to protest the zero tolerance policy on migrants on July 7, 2018. They will join with local community organizations in El Paso, other Catholic advocacy organizations, and diverse groups that oppose the Administration’s new policy on migrants.

Items of Interest will report on Good Shepherd’s involvement in the protest in the August issue.

How you can take action to help migrants

  • Call the Department of Justice at 202-353-1555. Voice your distress over the policy on migrants with Attorney General Jeff Session’s changes to asylum policy and tell him to end the policy of separating families.
  • Call your Senators and Representatives. Let them know you oppose immigration bills that will restrict regular migration channels, split up families, harm children, and promote mass deportations
  • Use hashtags and raise your voice on social media. #FamiliesBelongTogether #KeepFamiliesTogether #ThereAreAlternatives.
  • Join or organize a local rally or vigil. Find an event near you and participate.
  • Assist supporting organizations that are providing shelter, medical services, legal representation and psychosocial support to immigrant children and families. Volunteer or donate.
Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette is the Communications Coordinator for Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America. She is a career photojournalist who has served in various capacities of print, broadcast, and corporate communications. Jeanette is devoted to creation and is particularly focused on saving pollinators and other wildlife species and their habitat. She is an ethical vegan and created the website veganstoryteller.com