The following excerpt was taken from an article issued by Catholic News Service on August 26, 2019, then it appeared in America Magazine online.
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee said Aug. 23 sees “heartbreaking consequences for immigrant children” in a final rule issued by the Trump administration that allows the federal government to hold immigrant children in family detention indefinitely.
The new rule was issued jointly by the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services that will end a long-standing legal agreement put in place in 1997– known as the Flores Settlement Agreement — to ensure the safety and care of children in immigration detention settings.
Pope Francis has deemed immigrant children “the most vulnerable group’ among migrants,” and they will be most affected by this new rule, said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration.
(This) is an attempt by the administration to circumvent existing obligations and undermine critical protections for these children,” the bishop said in a statement. “This rule will jeopardize the well-being and humane treatment of immigrant children in federal custody and will result in children suffering long-lasting consequences of being held for prolonged periods in family detention.
“We oppose this rule that we believe is unlawful and inhumane. Countless children will be harmed by this new rule and this is simply not acceptable,” he said.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also opposed this rule when it was initially proposed by DHS and HHS by submitting comments Oct. 23, 2018, detailing concerns with the rule and urging it be rescinded. The government received more than 98,000 comments in response to the proposed rule-making.
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. said it likewise submitted comments, calling the proposed rule “unlawful and immoral” as it negates “the child-friendly provisions in the Flores agreement.”
Said Anna Gallagher, CLINIC’s executive director: “This rule would destroy long-term child protection standards created by our government and the courts. There is no justification to keep families and children in immigration jails longer. Separation of children from their parents is inherently wrong. The same is true for keeping children in detention.”