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US Cardinal leads protest against brutal treatment of child migrants

Cardinal Joseph W Tobin

Cardinal Joseph W Tobin

Source: Diocese of Newark/ICN

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, led more than 400 Catholic demonstrators on Wednesday, 4 September to protest against the inhumane treatment of child migrants and their families at detention centres across the US. In recent months at least seven children have died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centres. Many more are being separated from their families for months.

The demonstrators, including priests, religious and laypeople, blocked traffic for hours as they lay in the road in front of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Federal Building in Newark.

Cardinal Tobin said in a 5 September statement:

Today I stand in solidarity with my fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ to decry the treatment of our children who bear the trauma wrought by immigration enforcement raids, separation from their families and indeterminate detention. These draconian measures are NOT a solution to our broken immigration system. They are a violation of human dignity and are contrary to religious teachings and the sacred call to care for our most vulnerable populations. Psalm 1:27 tells us that children are always a blessing. We must protect them.

So-called deterrence policies do not address the underlying causes of irregular migration, which are much stronger than any deterrent that a government can erect.

Jesus asks His disciples to go further, calling on us to recognise Him in the stranger: "Whatsoever you did to the least of my brothers, you did to me" (Mt. 25:40).

I am the grandson of immigrants and raised in a multicultural neighbourhood in southwest Detroit. I am an American and understand the federal government should continue a prudent policy aimed at protecting its citizens with safe borders. As a Catholic priest and bishop in the United States I also understand that we must heed the call of God, who through Moses told the people of Israel: "You shall not oppress an alien; you well know how it feels to be an alien, since you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt" (Ex 23:9). Children are not to be separated from their families, incarcerated in their own filth, denied proper medical care and permitted to die from neglect.

Here in Newark, Catholic Charities, assisted by parishes and parishioners of the Archdiocese, has helped refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to resettle and comply with the stringent requirements of the vetting process that is coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security. We hope to welcome others who seek to better their lives.

I ask all Catholics and others of good will to contact their local, state, and federal elected officials and urge them not to manipulate these families as political pawns. As a nation, we must come together for immigration reform which defends "the family," protects human dignity and the sacredness of life.

"Whoever keeps the word of Christ, the love of God is truly perfected in him" (1 JN 2:5).

For further reports see:

America Magazine:

NCR Online:


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