Sunday, January 29, 2017

Catholic Relief Services issues statement on immigration executive order


by Sean Callahan
CRS president & CEO

As an international humanitarian and development agency responding to the needs of vulnerable refugees every day, we know that restricting the ability of those fleeing violence to reach safety will jeopardize the lives of innocent people and call into question the very values on which our country was founded.
The United States was founded over 240 years ago as a nation of immigrants, many of them refugees fleeing religious persecution. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) was founded 75 years ago to assist refugees from violence during and after World War II. We all should be proud of that shared heritage and work to further it, especially at a time when turmoil has produced over 65 million forcibly displaced persons in need of help.
People seeking refuge in the United States and elsewhere are victims -- often of the same terrorists from whom we must protect ourselves. We know the people most affected by extremists and conflict. They are people like all Americans, seeking safety and a better life for their families. In fact, in our work around the world, we depend on many of them for our own safety. They need our help - now!

Our elected officials have an obligation to protect the security of the American people, and we should all take concerns about security seriously. But, denying entry to people desperate enough to leave their homes, cross oceans in tiny boats, and abandon all their worldly possessions just to find safety will not make our nation safer. The United States is already using a thorough vetting process for refugees – especially for those from Syria and surrounding countries. CRS welcomes measures that will make our country safer, but they shouldn’t jeopardize the safety of those fleeing violence; should not add appreciable delay nor entail unjust discrimination. As Pope Francis has said: “Fear...weakens and destabilizes us, destroys our psychological and spiritual defenses, numbs us to the suffering of others.” We have a moral obligation to ’welcome the stranger.’ Our faith compels us to do so.
As a Catholic agency founded on the social and moral teachings of the Church, we must act based on our values, and echo the Holy Father, who said, "there must be no family without a home, no refugee without a welcome, no person without dignity."
This is not just a Catholic message; this is an American message. It is the message we should be sending to those in need around the world. Welcoming those in need is part of America’s DNA.
Protecting America means protecting the moral values embedded in our foundation. These values make our nation great. We must ensure that they are never eroded.

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