United States

U.S. bishops express concern over new immigration policy

The U.S. bishops have issued a statement expressing their concern over the country's new immigration policy.

Gonzalo Meza-June 7, 2024-Reading time: 2 minutes
San Diego

A group of migrants waits at the border separating Mexico and the United States (OSV New photo / Mike Blake, Reuters).

"We are deeply troubled by the disregard for asylum law and basic humanitarian protections in the United States," said El Paso, Texas Bishop Mark J. Seitz, after U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order that provides for severe restrictions on asylum and increases consequences for those who enter without authorization across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Monsignor Seitz, who is the chairman of the Migration Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic BishopsHe added that there is a crisis of conscience in the country because when vulnerable families seek safety and the means for a dignified life in the U.S., they are labeled as "invaders" and "illegals," epithets, Seitz said, that seek to hide their humanity. "We have strayed from the path of righteousness and have abandoned the values on which our nation was founded," the prelate said on behalf of the U.S. bishops. 

These measures, said Monsignor Seitz, will not reduce the increasing levels of migration The report said that "imposing arbitrary limits on access to asylum and restricting due process will only empower and embolden those who seek to exploit the most vulnerable.

In the face of the immigration emergency, the U.S. bishops urge the U.S. Congress to carry out a partisan reform of the "failed immigration system". They also urge the U.S. president to promote in his administration "policies that respect the human life and dignity of migrants, both within and outside our borders".

The new measures

Currently, individuals entering and remaining in U.S. territory - with or without documents - have the right to apply for asylum; however, under the new rule, unauthorized border crossers will be subject to expedited removal, will be ineligible to apply for asylum, will be barred from re-entry for five years, and could face criminal prosecution.

The new rule provides for exceptions, for example, when there is a serious medical emergency and when the person can demonstrate an imminent and extreme threat such as kidnapping, rape, or torture. Also exempt from this rule will be those who apply to enter the country from Mexico using the mobile application "CBP One". This system was created in 2023 to request entry into the U.S. by appointment with the authorities. However, the application has been overwhelmed as the system only grants an average of 1,500 appointments daily with thousands of people of different nationalities trying to obtain their appointment, waiting for months at the northern border.

Although in theory the new measure is temporary (it only goes into effect when 2,500 apprehensions of undocumented immigrants exceed 2,500 at the southern border and will be in effect for 7 days until the number has been reduced to 1,500), in practice the rule will apply for a long time, since in recent months there has been an average of more than 6,000 apprehensions per day at the southern border. Many analysts have pointed out that this measure, far from solving the serious migratory crisis that the country is going through (and that also affects Mexico), only has electoral overtones.

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