USCCB Condemns Separating Immigrant Children from Families


They are most definitely a problem, as are all criminals to a more or less extent. I would object to calling them “animals” because I am a Catholic, and that would be sinful. I do not, however, object too much, for it is a sin that I understand. Others are holier than I, for sure.


When one observes, as you did, that there is a high murder rate in El Salvador, using that as a reason to grant refugee status to just about anyone who comes from there, it necessarily raises the question why there is such a violence level there. Further, in admitting unknown numbers of unvetted people from there, are we simply importing the problem to this country?

Clearly, to at least the extent of 13,000 gang members from Central America, we have been doing exactly that. I understand there is now another gang coming in called Barrio 18. Same kind of outfit.

13,000 is a lot of gang members. And if the government thinks it’s 13,000, it’s probably twice that.



There is no bright line separating those issues where the bishops’ involvement is appropriate from those where it is not. I clearly set the bar higher than most bishops do. My concern with their (persistent) involvement in political issues is that it tends to poison the conversation by separating the sides into the sheep and the goats, the moral versus the immoral. That perception runs through all of these discussions on any issue on which they speak.

That said, there are times when the issue is so clear that it would be a dereliction not to speak out. So, how are we to distinguish where their involvement is appropriate from when it is not? I haven’t thought about this enough to come up with a general rule, so I’ll address just this particular issue.

If a bishop is going to interject himself into a political controversy he needs to give every indication of both impartiality and comprehension, otherwise it is not unreasonable to view his involvement as being to some degree politically motivated. On this issue the bishops fall short (in my opinion) on both counts.

First, this action is not new; it has been the law for 20 years, and the bishops are just now coming forward to condemn it? The timing may have been motivated by what (appears to be) the increased scale of the separations, but if the action is so immoral they should certainly have come forward before to challenge it. That they bring this up only now under this administration justifiably raises questions regarding partiality.

Second, and I’ve mentioned this before, if they understand the full scope of the problem they give no evidence of it. The (current) options are to hold the adults and separate the children, or simply release into the country anyone who comes across the border in the company of a child. Their approach turns children into free-access tokens and encourages the separation of the families by the smugglers before they ever reach this country. That the bishops never discuss any of the problems with their solution or even acknowledge that other concerns exist in my mind invalidates their involvement.


In my response to Leaf I cited one of my concerns with the bishops’ involvement in political issues: it tends to poison the discussion by turning it away from a debate about whether this policy is better than that one, and into a series of charges stating (or suggesting) that those who oppose the bishops are at best cafeteria Catholics. Your comments provide good examples of just the kind of charge I refer to.

Post 401: I am coming at this as a Catholic.
I guess this is to distinguish you from your opponents for whom faith is simply a matter of convenience.

Post 416: Humanity mandates it should not have happened, unless you completely disregard the moral authority of the Church.
“You sheep over here, you who disagree with me (and thereby disregard the moral authority of the church) go over there with the goats.”

Post 458: I refuse to become a cafeteria Catholic over this.
Yes, exactly this…

Comments like this change the debate from one about good or bad ideas into measurements of who is a good or bad person. Unfortunately, the bishops’ comments, intended or not, encourage just such an approach.


The Popes and bishops have consistently said that international efforts towards ending conflicts is the highest priority. Even finding a way to provide people with safe zones within their own country might help stem the flight.

The United States has interfered in the politics of Central and South America for reasons having to do with our strategic objectives that largely neglected the effect their support might have on the citizenry. We have earned some degree of responsibility to help these nations with internal problems that we had any hand in creating. In the end, however, helping people to make their nations more stable and livable will of course lower the number of people who come here with stories of desperation and allow those nations to better address their own desperate cases themselves.


Why do you “believe” that? The figure is more like 10,000, and many of them are recruits who are here legally, including US citizens.

Be careful about the President’s numbers, by the way. When I have researched his comments, I have found he is not at all careful about verifying his numbers. Sometimes, I haven’t even been able to find any sources that match the number he threw out. He doesn’t seem to view getting numbers exactly right as particularly important to the point he is making? (The alternative is that he makes up numbers that he has inflated for effect, and knows he’s doing it.)



Uh, no. You are the one trying to change the debate. I refer back to the title, that this started with statements by multiple bishops. How this thread started is still here, as is the title. It is the bishops of the Catholic Church who said this action was immoral You are trying to change it to just some matter of opinion so it can be dismissed and nuanced away.


Oh for goodness sake! You use a possible difference in the reporting of the numbers in a gang whose exact membership probably isn’t even known by it, in order to take a shot at Trump. Let’s put it this way. If they move to your neighborhood, it will seem like a million of them.


You do have a point, in a way. The U.S. has, indeed, intervened in Latin America during the Cold War to prevent Russian imperialist establishment of Marxist-Leninist governments there. Had the U.S. done nothing, and had the Soviet Union collapsed all the same, those countries would be so many Cubas and Venezuelas right now, but without any foreign support in the way of heavy or nuclear weaponry. Cuba, at least, has very tight control of its citizenry. Venezuela’s communist rulers are not in quite as good control as those in Cuba, but they’ll get there in time if nobody intervenes.


Yes, I don’t think it does much now to coulda-shoulda-woulda about it. We did it for whatever reason we did it, but we did it in our interest with unintended bad side effects that we ought to feel we have a responsibility to help with as we are wanted. Maybe that is humanitarian aid so that fewer people will feel a need to flee. The situation differs so much from nation to nation; this is not a matter that has an easy answer. Morality says we have to find an answer that doesn’t involve taking small children away from mothers when we have no evidence of abuse. What we should do so as to simultaneously satisfy the demands of border security and humanitarian concern is indeed the realm of politics.

Speaking of which, if we have no control of our borders, those with a mind to evade the law will use this to their advantage. This isn’t good for anyone, and the Church has never suggested that nations do not have a right and duty to concern themselves with who enters or leaves their territories. Those who suggest that the United States or any other nation ought to eliminate administration of national borders have given leave of common sense.


This is a very good reason for all these nations to get together and decide what needs to be done.

The world has changed and people no longer stay put but will travel to wherever is safest and/or has the most opportunity. It’s what people do.

When I mean nations, I just don’t mean just governments but also private citizens. Maybe the Church with her members all over the world can work together to find a solution.

Just my two cents. :thinking:


From another thread, I found this really disturbing. Why doesn’t the USCCB find it sobering?
First of all, of the thousands of minors, only 102 were under the age of 5. The rest are all older.
Of the 102:

•54 will be reunified by Tuesday; their parents are still in government custody and will be released with their children.
•Two have already been reunified since the initial list was made over the weekend.
•Six aren’t covered by the order – three because of their parents’ criminal records and three because the accompanying adult turned out not to be a parent.
•Five have parents still in ICE custody who could be released soon, but require more follow-up after a background check.
•Nine have parents who were removed already from the US.
•Nine have parents who were released already from ICE custody and are somewhere in the US.
•Four have parents who are in state criminal custody.
•Eight have parents who are in federal criminal custody.
•Four could be released to a non-parent sponsor rather than a parent.
•One there is no information on the parent.


I once had a bishop state that it was immoral to oppose raising the minimum wage. Just because a bishop asserts something doesn’t actually make it true; their judgements are as open to dispute as anyone else’s.

To start with it is not “the bishops” who have said this. Your statement implies a great deal more than is true. It would be accurate to say “some bishops”, or “several bishops”, but “the bishops” is quite misleading. Finally, their comments are in fact their opinions. They may be well informed, they may in fact be quite accurate, but they are still opinions. What is the alternative? Do they rise to the level of doctrin?


The fact is, the US does take in refugees. It does take in immigrants. I believe the number of immigrants allowed in each year is determined by Congress. So, just like Jesus could not cure everyone, neither can the US take in all immigrants. That doesn’t stop the US from taking in some immigrants. Undoubtedly, if CNN or some other news agency would have interviewed the people that Jesus did not cure, there would have been a fair amount of complaining as well.


That first article includes this paragraph:
“While the United States and Mexico continue to be the main destinations for those seeking opportunities to improve their economic situation or for family reunification, for those fleeing violence, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama are the most commonly used options for seeking refuge.”


I would need to see that statement in context to determine if it really says what you purport.

When the US Supreme Court issues a divided opinion, there are usually one or more dissenting opinions issued. If there are some US Bishops that strongly dissent from the statement published in their name, where is their dissenting opinion? Seeing none, it is reasonable to say “the US Bishops.”


Isn’t that called the “argument from silence” and a logical fallacy?


You don’t find it sobering that thousands of minors have been separated from their parents? Have you ever had a third grader? That’s nine years old, not five. There are third graders who don’t cope well with a week of summer camp with their friends, let alone week after week not knowing if they’ll ever see their parents again. Yet somehow you don’t seem to think this is a big deal for children who haven’t even reached the age of reason? I cannot believe you are a father, not unless your desire to punish and deter parents is so great that you do not care what effect state-sponsored “deterrence” has on the children used as the pawns for it.

Yes, it is sobering to think that a zero-tolerance policy started in April has been interfering with parental custody of five year olds–and trust me, there is a reason there isn’t overnight summer camps for five year olds!!–and would still be doing it if a federal judge hadn’t ordered it stopped, since the Administration found no children, even the ones under five, who could be returned until they were forced to do it.
The bishops’ complaint was not about children taken from parents charged with a felony if the parents had the normal opportunity to have the children placed with a guardian of their choosing rather than just taken away.

There are Republican lawmakers who are very upset by this situation, too, not just “liberals.” The zero-tolerance policy was ill-conceived and ought to have been stopped as soon as the Administration saw the legal and humanitarian ramifications of their deterrence strategy–and make no mistake, Mr. Sessions said at the start that this was a deterrence strategy, not that it had anything to do with stopping human trafficking, and it is totally reasonable to take him at his word.

Yes, Jeff Sessions and his boss, Donald Trump, were willing to subject children to torment in order to keep parents of other children from seeking asylum here. That is disgusting. There is no amount of “it was not that bad” sugar-coating that changes that.


PS Do not tell me that separating a five year old from both mother and father without warning is not a torment. It is one of the worst things a five-year-old could have happen to them, let alone a toddler, because children five-year-old and younger are too young to understand that a forced separation carried out by a bunch of total strangers that goes on night after night is “temporary.” From their point of view, they are kidnapped. They don’t know if they’re ever going to see their parents again. When they get back, they are constantly afraid they’ll lose them again without warning. There is no question about it, not if you have ever HAD a five year old.

I’m surprised it is even a question to those of us who have BEEN five year olds!!!


Or even three times that.

By the way are we doing any favors to the refugees who are able to seek asylum here if the very people who are the cause of all the problems back home are also let in with them?

So how do we separate the legitimate asylum seekers from MS 13 gang members?

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