In the photo above, a volunteer with a Catholic Charities’ Humanitarian Respite Center leads a group of Central American refugees to their center in McAllen, Texas, to wait for buses taking them to their family in the U.S.
In recent days and weeks, elected officials and media outlets have perpetuated misleading claims about the Catholic Church’s work with migrants and refugees, especially the work of Catholic Charities agencies along the U.S.-Mexico border and across the country.
Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, shared the following key points to clear up the misleading and inaccurate statements by some elected officials and media outlets:
- The services provided by Catholic Charities agencies across the United States are carried out in accordance with the law, often in close cooperation with local, state, and federal governments, along with other non-governmental organizations.
- The assistance being given by the non-governmental organizations is to those individuals and families who have already been granted permission to be in the United States by the U.S. government.
- Ministries geared toward migrants are inspired by Scripture, Catholic social teaching, and a longstanding history of caring for the most vulnerable among us.
- The Catholic Church has long advocated for comprehensive immigration reform.
- Meanwhile, there is a humanitarian crisis that is being addressed by this cooperative effort from local, state, and federal government agencies and non-government organizations, including Catholic Charities.
- In the Diocese of St. Augustine, Anita Hassell, CEO and Diocesan Director of Catholic Charities Bureau, Inc., stated on Feb. 3, “I assure you that Catholic Charities in the Diocese of St. Augustine or elsewhere in the United States does not encourage nor provide financial or travel assistance to undocumented immigrants. We resettle immigrants who come to this country documented and with refugee status assigned by the government.
More information on the church’s approach to immigration can be found in the pastoral letter Strangers No Longer and a recent statement from Mexican and American bishops along the U.S.-Mexico border. Bishop Dorsonville has also submitted written testimony to Congress on the need for systemic reforms to our immigration system.
To learn more about the work of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of St. Augustine regarding migration and refugees, visit https://www.ccbjax.org/immigration-legal-services or https://www.ccbjax.org/refugee-resettlement. Or call Anita Hassell at (904) 899-5500.