Leadership speaks out against family separation at southern border

June 18, 2018

Dear Senator or Representative,

We are members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious Region IX (Wisconsin). As leaders, we represent over 2,000 Catholic Sisters in the State of Wisconsin.

We wish to express our strong disagreement with the Trump Administration's policy of separating children from their parents when arriving at the US/Mexico border. We urge you to demand that the Administration stop this policy or pass legislation that will end this policy. The family is a foundational element of Catholic teaching and family unity is a cornerstone of our American immigration system. This action speaks of a country that has lost its moral compass.

We see the cruelty of this "zero tolerance" policy daily through heartbreaking stories of children being taken out of the arms of their parents and put into far-flung detention centers. Parents have no way to communicate with their children and have uncertainty about whether they will be reunited. According to a lawyer from the Justice Department, once a parent is in federal custody and the child is funneled into the Department of Health and Human Services system, the government does not try to reunite them. It has also been reported that some parents are being deported without their children and some small children are being deported without their parents.

The United Nations human rights office called this new practice a serious violation of the rights of children and demanded an immediate halt. The Catholic Bishops have denounced it as cruel and outside the U.S. tradition of welcoming of immigrants and the treatment of people seeking protection from harm. In the words of Cardinal DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.

We implore you to do all you can to stop the Trump Administration's "zero-tolerance" policy of filing criminal charges against immigrants -- including families seeking asylum from gang violence, rape, or political persecution. And we urge you to work in Congress to enact long-overdue immigration reform that enjoys broad public support and reflects American values, such as protecting young Dreamers and keeping families united.

Sincerely,

Sister Ann Rehrauer, President
Sister Nancy Langlois, First Vice President
Sister Rose Jochmann, Second Vice President