Columbans Stand in Opposition to Immigration Raids

January 6, 2016
Contact: Jenny Labbadia, Communications and Outreach Associate
Office: 202-635-5812, Email: jlabbadia@columban.org

Washington, DC- Columban missionaries stand in opposition to the recent immigration raids across the country targeting Central American individuals and families seeking refuge in the United States.

Beginning the first weekend of January, the Department of Homeland Security began carrying out immigration raids on Central American families and children who entered the United States since January 1, 2014. This includes families who did not have access to appropriate due process or protections because of a lack of adequate legal representation as well as expedited removal procedures. This inhumane practice has left many communities in fear of being separated from their families, detained, and deported back to dangerous and possibly life-threatening situations in their home countries.

“As Columban Missionaries who have been sent throughout the world to meet the needs of God’s most vulnerable people, we have witnessed the deep suffering of migrants,” stated Rev. Timothy Mulroy, U.S. Regional Director of the Missionary Society of St. Columban. “As a society we are committed to ‘continue accompanying and defending the rights of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers’ (Called to Communion, 2012).”

Columbans in El Paso, TX have witnessed the deep trauma inflicted upon Central American communities when they provided housing and support for the children and families fleeing violence during the summer of 2014.

The level of violence in Central America is only increasing. Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras are home to some of the highest murder rates in the world, as in the case of El Salvador, where the numbers of people murdered due to gang violence is approaching 1,000 each month, equal to the level of violence during the years of the civil war in the 1980s.

Immigration raids are an invasive and inhumane response to this humanitarian crisis that has caused thousands to flee these horrific realities. These raids only serve to re-traumatize individuals and families while also inciting fear and panic in migrant communities.

Scott Wright, Director of the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, responded: “Instead of continuing the inhumane practice of immigration raids and targeting families seeking safety, the administration should ensure that they are provided legal counsel and due process while also addressing the root causes of this migration. Our migration polices need to be just and compassionate, providing exhaustive and full access to protections for migrants and asylum seekers.”

In the face of such actions, we are called to act on the words of Pope Francis: “Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.”

The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach is the advocacy office for the Missionary Society of St. Columban. The Center serves as the line of communication between Columban missionaries serving in 15 countries around the world and policy makers in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to work towards a more just, peaceful, and environmentally sustainable world by engaging in the political process guided by our Catholic faith and the Gospel.