Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Statement of Roger Cardinal Mahony
Archbishop Emeritus  of Los Angeles


April 12, 2018

As archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with the largest immigrant population of any metropolitan area, I strongly oppose recent actions announced by the Trump administration to target our immigrant brothers and sisters with new enforcement initiatives that undermine the due process of law and sow fear within immigrant families and immigrant communities.

This fear was illustrated on Easter Sunday when two teachers told me after Mass that increasingly young boys and girls just start crying during class.  The reason?  They are terrified that when they return home either their mother or father will be gone.  How can we do this to innocent children?

In the FY 2018 omnibus budget bill recently passed, the administration failed to win funding for additional border patrol and ICE agents, detention beds, and for the construction of a new border wall.  These funding decisions represented the will of Congress and the majority of the American public, as a majority of US citizens oppose mass deportation schemes and a 2,000-mile wall along our southern border.

Regardless, the administration has announced new steps to militarize the border and to remove due process protections from asylum-seekers searching for protection in our nation, including the use of National Guard troops at the border, the detention of all asylum-seekers until their court hearing, and annual quotas for cases for immigration judges.

Moreover, the administration is intending to introduce legislation to remove protections from unaccompanied alien children arriving at our border and otherwise restrict asylum-seekers in their ability to win asylum protection.  And, of course, the administration continues to pursue an ill-advised border wall, which will drive desperate migrants into remote portions of the desert and possibly to their deaths.

Taken together, these steps could severely weaken our standing as a safe haven for the world’s persecuted and a nation based upon fairness and the due process of law.
This is in addition to the administration’s ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for numerous at-risk populations, and weakening of the US refugee programs, among other initiatives.  It is clear that this administration is pursuing a war on immigrants, both the undocumented and legal immigrants.

Enough is enough.  Catholics and all Americans of good will should stand up against these policies as contrary to America’s values and interests.  We should not be transformed from a welcoming society, which has benefited our nation for centuries, to one which is intolerant and hostile to those seeking protection and a better life in our nation.  This is not the American way.

In his recent Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad), Pope Francis teaches us that being open to and welcoming migrants is a path toward holiness.  He also states that migration is not a secondary issue but should be a primary concern for Catholics and others who seek holiness.

Along with many of my fellow brother bishops, I call upon Catholics and all who cherish our nation’s immigrant heritage to oppose these draconian immigration policies and to stand against rhetoric which dehumanizes our immigrant brothers and sisters.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ teaches us to “welcome the stranger,” as in the face of the migrant we see the face of Christ.  We are at a pivotal point in our country’s history, where we can follow the call of Christ or remain silent and complicit in policies which cause suffering among our fellow human beings.

Let us work together with all religious groups to proclaim the truth that immigrants and refugees who arrive in our nation are not criminals, but are contributors to our great country, and, like all Americans, are drawn to the values we all share:  liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness.