[Episcopal News Service] Anglican and Episcopal bishops from six Latin American countries met in El Salvador last week to discuss what they warned were “anti-migrant, racist and discriminatory policies adopted by the United States’ authorities,” according to a joint statement released after the meeting.
The statement was signed by Bishop Juan David Alvarado, Diocese of El Salvador; Presiding Bishop Francisco Moreno, Primate of the Province of Mexico; Bishop Lloyd Allen, Diocese of Honduras; Bishop Julio Murray, Diocese of Panamá y Costa Rica; Bishop Philip Wright, Diocese of Belize; Bishop Benito Juárez, Diocese of Southeast Mexico, and Bishop Silvestre Romero, Diocese of Guatemala.
The meeting, from 31 January to 2 February, focused specifically on the Trump administration’s decisions to terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and the Central American Minors refugee program and to end Temporary Protected Status for some populations, including those from Haiti and El Salvador. Though the bishops’ statement doesn’t reference President Donald Trump by name, it says the bishops have reached out to the President and the US Congress, urging them to follow the biblical command to “love the stranger” as they search for just policies toward migrants.
The US-based Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations has information on Temporary Protected Status here and DACA here.
You can read the bishops’ full letter below.
Position of the Diocesan Bishops of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Central America, Belize and Mexico on the termination of the TPS, DACA and CAM programs
The bishops of the Anglican Episcopal Churches of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, North and Southeast Mexico, met in San Salvador, El Salvador, from January 31 to February 2, 2018, to meditate, pray and analyze the evident hardening of the anti-migrant, racist and discriminatory policies adopted by the United States’ authorities, and that are embodied in the termination of the following programs: the Temporary Protected Status (TPS); Central American Minors (CAM) refugee program, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
These policies will affect hundreds of thousands of migrants, for example, people from Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Mexico and other countries.
Faced with this unresolved migration crisis, the diocesan bishops participating in the meeting expressed their position to the administration of the President and to the Congress of the United States of America. Specifically, we urged the search for:
- humanitarian and fair reception for migrants in the United States,
- the reasonable opportunity to identify ways to legalize their stay,
- particularly guarantee mobility and protection for children and adolescents, and
- protection of family unity.
As previously expressed in the same spirit in the letter issued by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church gathered in Phoenix in 2010:
- We exhort the authorities of the United States to keep in mind that God has always commanded us to love the stranger: “The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:34).
- We pray that the Holy Spirit will touch the hearts and minds of the authorities of the United States of America, so that they understand that migration is to the benefit of everyone.
- We do not accept the re-victimization of these migrants, who in principle are good people and many have been victims of death threats, of harsh conditions of economic and social vulnerability, while others have been victims of violence from both gangs and agents of the State of their countries of origin.
- We denounce that ending the adopted migration programs, without a possible alternative solution, violates human dignity and human rights, is discriminatory and racist.
- We absolutely reject the manipulative assertions of certain politicians pointing to migrants as criminals based solely on their irregular migration status and their belonging to other cultures and races.
- We ask the political authorities of the United States to refrain from expelling the migrants, since this act would be an affront against God, our churches and divine creation.
- We give thanks to, and join the struggle of, the Episcopal churches of the United States and other denominations as well as groups of people who defend the human rights of migrants. We invite you to continue working together on regional and interprovincial projects to help resolve the migration crisis.
- We recognize the support, solidarity and sensitivity of the people of the United States, who have made space in their hearts and consciences for migrants. To these noble and humane people belong the faithful of churches, legislators, senators and politicians sincerely concerned that this situation be regularized, seeking peace and social harmony.
- We urge our political authorities in Central America, Belize and Mexico to coordinate and work on decent and humane proposals in favor of migrants and then present them in a negotiating dialogue with the United States’ authorities.
- We demand the political authorities of our countries, regions and the United States, to work together to promote structural changes in their respective countries so that there are conditions of employment, health, education, security, housing, basic services and other conditions so that people abandon the idea of emigrating.
- In the face of the migration crisis, the united voices of the bishops in this meeting remind all political authorities that it does not matter what was done incorrectly in the past or what was omitted to be done, but how beautiful we can build together hereinafter, cultivating in the present a fraternal dialogue, respectful and dignified among all, to attend to the migratory victims.
- We must all remember that no one is a migrant, because although we come from one place and go to another, we are always within God’s creation. He has made us stewards of creation so that we live together in harmony, freedom, and with equality for mobility, equity and responsibility.
Finally, we express to our sister and brother migrants: we will continue working for you and we commit ourselves to work in pastoral care for migrants at the local, regional and interprovincial levels.
San Salvador, 2 February 2018