In the wake of President Trump's executive orders to deport migrants, Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, has written a letter to priests in the diocese, advising them on ways they can support those who come to them for help, and how to respond if immigration authorities visit. The Cardinal said priests should not allow officials into church buildings unless they have the correct identification and documents "If they have a warrant from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), please ask them politely for the opportunity to review the warrant and to contact legal counsel for the Archdiocese of Chicago, before they enter.. " he writes
The full letter text follows:
February 28, 2017
With this letter I want to express my support as we stand together in solidarity with many of our parishioners who are deeply troubled by the recent executive orders related to immigration. Their trust in you and the Church is prompting them to come to you for support, spiritual guidance, and compassion.
We need to stand together and clearly make it known that the Archdiocese of Chicago supports the dignity of all persons without regard to immigration status.
You know from my earlier statements that my brother bishops and I, through the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, have insisted that the only just response to the broken immigration system in our country is a comprehensive and compassionate reform that reflects our heritage as a nation "under God with liberty and justice for all." The bishops will continue advocating this goal, but in the meantime we must stand in solidarity with those who live in the shadows.
To that end along with the USCCB, we have developed educational resources related to an immigrant's legal options, with an emphasis on possible avenues for administrative relief. In addition, I am pleased that many of our parishes are providing pastoral accompaniment, legal information and educational resources for immigrant families and individuals across Chicagoland through the Immigration Ministry of the Office of Human Dignity and Solidarity: pvm.archchicago.org/human-dignity-solidarity/immigration-ministry/about-us. If you would like this assistance for your parish, please contact Elena Segura at 312.534.5333 or Arturo Gonzalez at 708.252.9020.
We will continue to provide services to those who seek assistance, such as food, shelter and legal aid, through our related organizations, such as Catholic Charities, regardless of the person's national origin, religion or immigration status: www.catholiccharities.net
We have not named our churches as "sanctuaries" solely because it would be irresponsible to create false hope that we can protect people from law-enforcement actions, however unjust or inhumane we may view them to be. Moreover, immigration law does impose criminal penalties and fines for anyone who conceals, harbors or shields from detection, in any place, an alien who has come to, entered or remains in the United States in violation of the law.
It is also timely to recall our Archdiocesan policy that, only those who are ordained and assigned to live in a rectory or another ecclesiastical facility may reside there. Specifically this means that written permission of the Archbishop or the Vicar General is needed for those not assigned there.
If an immigration official does want to come onto the premises, before you allow them to enter please ask for identification, the reason for the visit, and any documents they have, such as a warrant. If they have a warrant from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), please ask them politely for the opportunity to review the warrant and to contact legal counsel for the Archdiocese of Chicago, before they enter.
Please contact the Office of Legal Services immediately, (Olga Rojas at 312.534.8332 or Pawel Boruch 312.534.8789.) If they do not want to wait, still have someone contact Office of Legal Services while you cooperate with the government official. If they do not have a warrant and it is not a situation that someone is in imminent danger, tell them politely they cannot come on the premises, ask them for their contact information, and tell them to contact the Office of Legal Services. You should then contact Legal Services to report this interaction.
You should never hesitate to reach out to our Office of Legal Services if you have any questions. We know these are emotionally trying times for many of you and I personally thank you for all that you do with and for your parishioners. Please be supportive of one another and know that I stand with you as well.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich
Archbishop of Chicago