The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has reiterated its pledge to serve people who are fleeing from violence and urged President-elect Donald Trump to adopt policies that will treat immigrants and refugees humanely.
"We stand ready to work with a new administration to continue to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans. A duty to welcome and protect newcomers, particularly refugees, is an integral part of our mission to help our neighbors in need," the bishops stated in a recent meeting, as reported by Catholic Herald.
During his campaign, Trump had expressed his intention to build a wall and deport 11 million people who are in the U.S. illegally. The president-elect has since softened his stance but in his interview with Leslie Stahl on "60 Minutes," he said that he would deport up to three million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz stated in a speech at the Baltimore assembly that protecting refugees is still a priority for the Church. He noted that bishops may also find common ground with Trump regarding religious liberty and the appointment of pro-life justices to the Supreme Court.
Their concern lies with Trump's rhetoric during the campaign, in which the president-elect referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals as well as his proposal to ban Muslims from entering U.S. soil.
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez recently held a prayer service to calm his mostly Latino parishioners who are afraid of facing deportation.
"They don't know what to make of it, especially many of them who have been here for a long time and they have families," said Gomez.
Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski reassured local Catholics by pointing out that when Ronald Reagan was first elected, the Haitian community faced the same fears. Reagan signed an immigration reform to strengthen border security but he also allowed some immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally to stay in the country.
"It's time to take a deep breath and continue our advocacy. If they're going to build a wall, we're going to have to be sure they put some doors in that wall," said Wenski.