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Catholic organisations oppose Trump’s plan for US-Mexico border wall

People protest against President Donald Trump's immigration policies during a demonstration near the White House in Washington on January 25. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Catholic organisations in the US have expressed concerns about anti-immigration measures authorised by President Donald Trump.

Trump signed executive memorandums on national security last week, including authorisation to construct a wall along the US-Mexico border, and directing John F Kelly, secretary of homeland security, to look at how federal funding streams can be cut for cities and states that harbour illegal immigrants.

Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, said in a statement:

“We can protect our citizens and, at the same time, we can welcome newcomers. Our commitment to care for those who are most vulnerable resides at the core of our faith.”

The PICO National Network, the largest network of congregations and faith-based groups in the country, including Catholics, challenged the executive memorandum on sanctuary cities.

“Retaliating against local communities is part of an emerging pattern of President Trump of not only bullying people who dare to disagree with him, but isolating and further marginalising people who are different than him,” said Eddie Carmona, campaign director for PICO National Network’s LA RED campaign.

Sister Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service and executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobbying organisation, called the presidential orders “antithetical to our faith.”

“When Nuns on the Bus visited the US-Mexico border in 2014, we walked along the wall and listened to the stories of communities that have been torn apart for decades.

That is the reality experienced by border communities: The wall is there and it affects the daily life and commerce of the people,” she said in a statement.

Pax Christi USA said: “We honour the multiplicity of reasons people migrate to the United States, many of which are poverty, gang violence and terror. People are not the enemy, but that is the myth we are being told by President Trump.”

The Franciscan Action Network expressed concern that the country would be turning its back on refugees after Trump’s actions.

“The United States was built by immigrants and we must continue to protect our immigrant and refugee sisters and brothers and keep families together,” Patrick Carolan, the Franciscan network’s executive director, said in a statement.

Elsewhere, the Jesuits of Canada and the United States said that it agrees with its partner agency, the Kino Border Initiative, which accompanies migrants and their families who are denied access to due process and protection, that the president’s actions would make them more vulnerable as they seek safety in the US.

Also joining the outcry was the chairman of the board of directors of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, California, who said the actions “greatly challenge and weaken the United States’ history and core value of offering refuge to the persecuted.

“Too many of these executive orders veer far from our national ideals, presuming guilt over innocence and risk depriving desperate people of due process rights and human dignity,” he said.