“President Trump on Wednesday [June 20] walked back his policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border that had united most of America in opposition … In classic Trumpian fashion, the President took credit for reversing a policy he previously said he couldn’t reverse … But this was a problem of his own creation, and ‘zero tolerance’ is part of it.”
— Wall Street Journal, lead editorial, June 21
President Donald Trump has a gift for creating turmoil. His eccentric leadership style — fluid on details, thriving on criticism, unapologetic about mistakes and contradictions — often works to his advantage by enraging his opponents and entertaining the masses. He’s built a career by capitalizing on enemies who underestimate him.
But there’s a human cost to political theater that can be inexcusably ugly, especially when it’s paid by children. The administration’s most recent blunder — separating children from their parents caught illegally entering the country — was both stupid and destructive, and the storm of anger it sparked, warranted.
Some background is in order. Last month, acting on a new “zero tolerance” White House policy toward immigrants illegally entering the country, the Justice Department determined that all persons detained illegally crossing the border should be prosecuted as criminals. But many undocumented immigrants travel as families. They arrive with children, and a 1997 court decree (the Flores settlement) forbids the detention of minors. Thus, a different government agency (HHS) took charge of the children — totaling about 2,300 — while their parents were readied for deportation. This turned into a media disaster for the administration. On June 20, Trump issued an executive order reuniting children and their families during their processing.
The worst part of this story, however, is that it’s simply the latest chapter in an endless and often hypocritical struggle by both political parties over the details of immigration reform. The wrangling has been going on for many years. And the result is always the same: gridlock and mutual recrimination.
A year ago in this space, I wrote about the arrest and detention of the mother of Jaime L., a student at one of our Philadelphia-area Catholic schools. Jaime and his brother were born in the United States and have American citizenship; his parents were not, and thus were “illegals.” Jaime’s mother was stopped on her way to work one morning by immigration authorities, arrested, detained, and ultimately deported.
Yet despite hundreds of painful stories like Jaime’s; thousands of families split apart by the deportation of a mother or father or both; and immense publicity about the plight of “Dreamers” — i.e., the 1.8 million young adults brought to the United States illegally as children who have grown up here and know no other home — nothing substantially has changed about our immigration laws in the last 12 months, or in the last 24 or 36 or 48.
The Trump presidency has aggravated the frictions inherent to this issue, but there’s plenty of blame to go around. The responsibility for fixing our immigration problems has always resided with Congress, not the White House, and over the past decade both political parties have excelled at the kind of calculating, partisan obstructionism that makes a fix impossible.
We’re better than this as a nation. And if we really want to “make America great again,” with a moral character that proves it, then the people who make and apply our laws need to act accordingly.
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Archbishop, the country needs to bring immigrants in the legal way. People coming in need to be documented and given identification. This takes time..
I’m sure that President Trump will work this mess out. It has become a political football mostly I think because the mid term elections are coming.
We welcome immigrants but need to be sure that they are not criminal types. I know that sounds terrible but we all know how many young people and older are dying from drug overdoses already. We need the wall so that we can bring immigrants in orderly. The right way. The Democrats are playing politics with this. You know that. I follow the news closely and am a honest, practicing Catholic. Trust me President Trump is doing the best he can.
God bless you and all of us.
Archbishop Chaput What legal right do these people have invading our country?
There are Millions of people on waiting list around the world waiting their turn following the legal process.The USCB supports the invasion and now wants non Illegal Aliens critics to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church?
The Bishops Cheered loudly when the Bishop of Tuscon wanted to introduce a NEW CANONICAL LAW to punish us through excommunication. Bishops act as if USA are a miserly supporter of AID throughout the world.Why must USA commit financial and cultural suicide to appease the Bishops and remain a Catholic in Good standing.?
We are still awaiting the Bishops to vociferously re-explain to Catholic Women the EVIL of Oral Contraception as pertains to the Sanctity of Life, its impact on the environment as the #1 Pollutant synthetic estrogen in Rivers & Streams per EPA and is a Group one carcinogen causing agent per WHO-Geneva July 29 2005..The FINAL Humane Vitae document in 1968 proved the synod of Bishops were wrong trying make us in sync with Protestant Main stream Dogma.. Pope Paul VI stood alone and shared the Future of Oral Contraception culminating with Homosexual Marriage.
I worry that Priest in USA are again out of touch with reality.
How can they still support the party of Slavery? The party of the KKK. The Party who disowned GOD officially in 2012.
The party who wants to take away our 1A rights of Freedom of Religion and constantly talk of Freedom of Worship.The party who denigrate the practicing Catholic judges publically.The party promoting promiscuity and the Culture of DEATH. I just don’t get it. It appears the Bishops see the world through the prism of SOCIALISM..#EpicFail
Will the Church reflect on their role in the destruction of the family? Welfare was the major cause in USA. This decimated the Black family and lack of Father figures.Initially usurping the families responsibility of feeding its children by offering Free Breakfast before school even though families receive food stamps and have multiple food banks everywhere.
Short term helping but long term removing self esteem and abdicating responsibility almost like keeping recipients on the modern plantation. The reason FDR did it and LBJ bragged about it winning a voter bloc at any cost..This was the sick twisted scheme hatched by the evil one disguised as CHARITY and the Bishops promote it. If you try to introduce a work requirement into the benefit you are called names like Racist and Bigots. This is the problem Australia New Zealand and UK had in the 1970s with the overuse of the DOLE.
I almost think the Bishops look at the Immigrants as somehow saving the Church in the USA. I lived in Mexico Colombia Argentina Chile and Puerto Rico. I spent junior Year at Mexico City Universidad Ibero Americana. 2010- 2011 I lived in Acapulco working for Fr Pablo Straub at his seminary / Convent complex. He told me in Mexico City less than 1% go to weekly Mass. Rest of the Country less than 5%, State of Jalisco 40% (Guadalajara) attend weekly Mass. This is worse attendance than USA and catechized even worse.
The Violence by the left has been escalating since the Tea party in 2010 the Bloody ambushes by Marxist BLM, Marxist Occupy Wall street and Marxist ANTIFA orchestrated by DNC Donor class Atheist Hollywood , Atheist Silicone valley and Atheist Progressive Universities. the Bishops still are all in on the DNC and want practicing Catholics Excommunicated..
Please wake up Thanks.
You may want to relisten to the video of Bishop Weisenburger from Tucson, especially without the commentary from others. First there was no conversation about excommunication. The Bishop was asking if the Council that reviews Canonical Penalties should review if those involved with the policy of family separations should be subject to Canonical penalties (not receiving communion), for the good of their soul. It was an appropriate question for the topic that was being discussed. He did not state his view when you review the words he chose. He simply asked if the committee should look at it. My guess is the Bishops decided not to look at it at this time, but that video was not shared. I have seen and heard this discussed in a variety of places and it would seem that commentators placed their own views into the situation. This is one of the problems for news on any topic. It is often twisted based on bias of the commentators in all sides of every issue. It then influences our views. God bless you!
We are a great nation and the destination of legal immigrants precisely because we favor the rule-of-law. President Trump and the working-class who elected him favor legal immigration. We welcome all immigrants who are not coming here to kill us and who respect and obey our laws. A country without enforceable borders is not a country. If the President does not enforce our laws, we will kill the golden goose (working-class) that has struggled to support both their families and the families of immigrants. MAGA and support LEGAL – and only legal – immigration.
Excellency, there is an interview now on the Ave Maria Radio archive on Church and Culture with Bishop Rene Henry Gracida who objected to the Bishop of Tucson’s call for the excommunication of government immigration employees. The Bishop said these current policies have not been changed since the Obama administration. Plus, Bishop Gracida said children were taken from parents at the border due to fears the children were not with parents but kidnapped by traffickers. Immigration does this to save lives not to be cruel. This is a moot point since the President has decided against children being separated from parents. Perhaps it is a blessing Mr. Trump drew attention to this humanitarian crisis as it got little or no attention during the last administration. I am troubled though by the level of criticism of this administration by some bishops in lock step with the news media. I expected praise for the victory of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Supreme Court Justice who is pro life or the positive pro life efforts of this administration for example the Mexico City Policy. I thought the signing of this document an answer to prayer and an attempt to listen to concerned citizens, a positive sign more good can be done for these people at the border.
I completely disagree with this column. Archbishop Chaput speaks the language of the left, with his use of “undocumented immigrants” instead of illegal alien and apparently wants the United states to have open borders.
I realize your stand on the immigration issues, but can you give no recognition to the good he has accomplished?? The reality is so much of the USA was comfortable with “a woman’s right to choose” and all the off the wall issues that are reality in the country, as well as all the foreign policies that have set us up. Treason is what has been committed year after year. Yes, our President doesn’t have a smooth tongue way of putting things, but then the serpent in the Garden of Eden had a slippery smooth tongue. I guess the only future chapter is for this country to fall under Socialism in order for some of these brickheads to find out what they handed over. For now, we can still say God Bless America.
Current U.S. immigration laws have the consequence of temporarily separating adults who arrive with children into separate detention facilities in order to prosecute the adults.
The policy of prosecuting immigrants for crossing the border illegally has been in place for multiple administrations. The Obama administration prosecuted half a million illegal immigrants and similarly separated families in the process. So did the Bush administration.
Doesn’t anyone find it strange that Archbishop Chaput was silent when Obama did the same thing? I also find it strange that he is so vocal about illegal immigration since it is illegal and illegal activities are not condoned by Catholic Church.
Whatever President Trump has done wrong, let’s at least give him his due for what he has done right!
A mother transporting a significant amount of heroin,with her toddler in her car,would be separated from her child on arrest, and, if no other responsible relative was available, the child would be placed in foster care. Both she and the illegal entry mother are arrested for felony crimes under current law. I suggest you use your office to work to change the laws if you think these felonies should be handled differently. Thousands of accused felony mothers,held for various crimes, have been so dealt with for many decades.
The term “immigrant” is used over and over when discussing the current problem we are facing in our country, however, the term “illegal” is missing. My grandparents came here from Italy at the turn of the century yearning for a better life as many of these illegal immigrants want, however, they came here legally after weeks in the bowels of a ship then entering through Ellis Island. My grandfather made numerous trips leaving his family behind while working here until he could afford to bring his wife and children. This is still an option open to people today, however, patience and hard work have been replaced by the desire for instant gratification. Laws exist to keep us safe and must be obeyed.
Archbishop…I was very disappointed to read the above article written by you. Usually, you are a model voice of reason and charity when discussing these issues. But criticizing a zero tolerance policy regarding immigration laws does not do you or the faithful any benefit. The USCCB merely mentions the right of a sovereign nation to protect its borders in passing or as an afterthought instead of the fundamental right it is in order to keep a peaceful and stable society. You could have been a voice of reason by giving more weight to this moral right by stating this along with the equal weight of treating each human person with dignity no matter which country they are from. But instead you sounded more as a spokesman for the Democratic party and the USCCB — which usually sound the same these days. As you pointed out in the above statement, the policy of separating the children from illegal immigrants from their families was not a Trump policy, but one that began in 1997 and continued by Pres. Clinton, Bush and Obama (You forgot to mention this as well). Trump merely continued what was the policy for the past 21 years. Yet, instead of applauding Trump for his executive order to end this court ruling and government policy, you attack his “leadership style” in addition to using a factually erroneous WSJ quotation. Lastly, you harshly judged the two political parties in their handling of the immigration issue. However, this judgment loses its credibility when in the end all you have done is take one of the political sides instead of showing the reason for seeing the big picture, giving credit where credit is due and assigning fault where it lies.
Since 2011 something the Media never speaks of has also been happening and something the Church also ignores. 63,000 Americans have been killed by illegal aliens. Why Bishop does no one in the Church care?
Your comment about homicides committed by “illegal aliens” is a quote of a statement made by Donald Trump on 6/22/18. It is a lie (See Snopes.com). No doubt, in response to a justifiable backlash to his and his administration’s reprehensible policy of caging and separating families, babies and children of people seeking asylum.
Since we all know Trump has a problem with the truth and spouts so-called “alternative facts” = lies, I would respectfully request that you do a fact-check before you repeat or disseminate these comments in any forum, especially a Catholic one such as Catholic Philly. Thank you.
When speaking of President Trump … be careful your eminence … we can’t afford to loose this man … he fights.
Archbishop, why must you side with the left, referring to the Trump administration as “stupid and destructive” and why must you use use the language of the left, with your use of the made-up leftist term “undocumented immigrants”? The parents here in question are being arrested for entering the country illegally, plain and simple. By your logic, we should not have borders in the United States. Anyone who wants to enter the country should be entitled to, and they can stay forever. No thanks.
Negotiation does not mean never changing your mind or position. I wish more politicians knew this.
The Mexican government is also largely responsible for USA immigration problem. Mexico has been no help in stemming the influx of illegal immigrants into the USA. Why not put the onus on the Mexican government to either stem this tide of illegal immigrants or the USA will institute sanctions on them and restrict all travel to Mexico.
To act accordingly, we would follow the 4th commandment and vote out any politician to who does not prioritize the public safety and the economic well-being of their citizen-constituents! Of course, we should harm no one (as is the case at the border where aliens throw themselves at Border Patrolmen who provide them with first aid and protection from Coyotes and other sexual predators).
The well-being of citizens of other countries is the sole responsibilities of their government officials! This is what the Catechism teaches about the 4th commandment – parents are obligated to their children; civil authorities are obligated to their citizenry. It is each of our personal obligations to “welcome the alien” but not the responsibility of any government! No way!
As for me, I will act in accordance with my understanding of the Gospel by working hard to unseat my incumbent Congressman who cares more for aliens than he does for his countrymen; who believes that the right to kill a child in the womb is a societal good! I’m going to work to elect Equadorian-born Steve Von Loor who believes in American and who understands the holocaust of abortion.
I’m a Catholic, but Archbishop, Donald Trump and his administration are exactly what you get when you allow the Church, especially at election time, to become a “one issue” force in our politics. Most Republican officials only use abortion as a wedge issue in our society. So when you support Republicans right down the line based on a single issue, i.e. abortion, you “buy” everything else they stand for as well. And as you see, it isn’t very pretty! And your claim that Democrats are equally responsible for the lack of progress in Congress towards an immigration fix is just another instance of your frustrating sense of “moral equivalency”. It is not true that Democrats are equally responsible! Republicans have opposed and obstructed comprehensive immigration reform at every turn, because they fear that immigrants will vote democratic, and because they resist any further diversification of our traditional white Anglo-Saxon culture. These are the same reasons that Republicans are the driving force behind minority voter suppression all over our country. Please, for once, recognize that it is more important to be totally frank than painfully equivalent. Todays Republicans are the party of the white, the rich, the privileged and the selfish. They want it all for themselves, and they want to share with nobody.
Thank you for your continued leadership. This whole situation has brought out the divisiveness in the US as well as within the Catholic faith. As I have heard you discuss in your homilies, the Catholic Faith is not Republican or Democrat. We have a higher calling to be Christ-like. There are times where a political situation crosses over and it is difficult for people to parse out. We have a huge opportunity within our Faith to continually show the love and mercy of Jesus when these situations arise. There is another beautiful aspect to this situation. Many people who have not always taken a pro-life stand are standing up for these children. It is obvious to me that they are prolife in their own heart. If we show them the proper love we can also walk them down the path to see the connection to our Faith, the love of Jesus and the idea of being pro-life from womb to tomb. Hopefully through all the division of this world we can be that beacon of hope. May God bless you!
Archbishop, the Democrats are not going to agree to anything. They refuse to accept the 2016 election. Please be honest about it. This is just another wedge issue for them. Most of your fellow bishops are lockstep with them. I pay no attention to their pronouncements anymore. They are Democrats at prayer. Do you really think the Church would be better off if Hillary Clinton had won the election? Supreme Court, religious liberty, I could go on and on.
Joe, I agree with you entirely about the bishops. So many people just shrug when the bishops speak. They’ve lost so much credibility.. Now they’re going to put out another voters guide for Catholics .Unfortunately they are part of the left wing of the Democratic party.
As for immigration we have 2 choices…..either we have open borders which is also known as catch and release or we regulate who comes into our country. As the example that Arb. Chaput put forth in his article, it behooves me why this mother did not, even after having 2 children, seek to become an American citizen.
Joe, did it ever occur to you that maybe “most of the Bishops” are correct, and YOU are the one who is out of step, who has it all wrong!? Maybe your neck has grown stiff, and your heart has grown hard? I will pray for you.
Also, this is not a new zero policy. It has been on the books for years. Does anyone realize that the US takes in over 1 million LEGAL immigrants a year There are entry points where families would not have been separated. That’s why you need a wall in order to funnel people to the entry points .Now that President Trump has signed an executive order to allow families to stay together he is still getting trashed. These children account for 2K of the 12K. What to do about the 10K? I proposed using DNA cheek swabs to determine who are actually family. Unfortunatey the Obama administration (which was not their intent) released children to sex traffickers and slave rings. therefore you have to check for the children’s safety who their true families are. As as aside, President Trump did not separate the children from their families but their own parents did who sent them north with strangers.
Are you really suggesting that the Democrats are responsible for the lack of progress on addressing immigrants and refugees? Pretty much every effort to correct this – including the ones proposed by the latest Bush administration – have been halted exclusively by the Republicans in Congress. Other than this most recent (once again stalled) Republican bill, every effort recently to correct the immigration issue has been pushed by the Democrats.
Joe, I agree. The silence from the Church when Obama was elected – twice – was deafening. We were not allowed to hand out pro life voter guides at church. Just when we were on the brink of losing our religious liberty, Trump was elected. The USCCB has lost my confidence. They are woefully misinformed and late to the game. My family has never been more hopeful – and that’s because we don’t follow mainstream media. This immigration uproar was started by pictures from Obama’s years and continued on a false narrative by the New York Times (the little girl on their cover was never separated from her mother). Yes, sad things do happen when people don’t follow the law. But I didn’t see the USCCB offering anything helpful other than condemning Trump for enforcing the law. Wake up, people. Great things are happening and the media doesn’t want you to know!
Joe: I can understand your frustration. You must admit Trump’s perfectly legal action created great anguish while alerting the American population to the messy legal creations of congress never challenged by previous presidents. There were no outcries before so this incident created a hot poker letting us observe how the media manipulates our emotions. I exhort our religious leaders to urge congress to expedite meaningful immigration reform. In the end, Trump did the right thing. He listened and made the humane response awaiting congress to change the law on the books. Flaw in the law!