Led by Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, members of the U.S. episcopal conference’s Committee on Migration traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border today and celebrated Mass in remembrance of migrants who have died attempting to reach the United States.
This Mission for Migrants included a wreath laying ceremony and a tour of the border. It was inspired by Pope Francis’ trip last year to Lampedusa, Italy, where he prayed for migrants who have died attempting to reach Europe by boat.
“As a moral matter, our nation can no longer employ an immigration system that divides families and denies basic due process protections to our fellow human beings,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.
Members of the delegation have called upon Congress — specifically the House of Representatives — to move quickly to fix a broken system. While the U.S. Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform last year, the House has refused to move on the measure or pass its own version of reform.
“Our elected officials are sent to Washington, D.C., to make decisions and lead our nation into the future,” said Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, a member of the committee. “They should no longer delay action on this issue, which enjoys the support of the large majority of the American public.”
During the Mass, Cardinal O’Malley and the bishops laid a wreath at the border wall in Nogales, Arizona, to remember those who have died on both sides of the border attempting to reach loved ones in the United States. At Lampedusa, Pope Francis threw a wreath into the Mediterranean Sea to remember migrants who have died attempting to reach Europe.
The bishops also called upon the Obama administration to use its authority to limit deportations of immigrants “who are no threat to the community” and have families living in the United States and would benefit from a legalization program.
On March 26, Bishop Elizondo wrote Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson recommending steps DHS could take to limit deportations, including the expansion of prosecutorial discretion and the phase out of federal-state-local enforcement programs.
More information on the “Mission for Migrants” and USCCB Committee on Migration can be found at: www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/mass-on-the-border.cfm.