Washington (Agenzia Fides) - "The new proposed rulemaking on immigrants undermines decades of policies and guidelines on the treatment of immigrants by the US government". This is what was written by an official statement published by the US Bishops' Conference (USCCB), signed by Bishop Joe Vasquez, Chair of the Committee on Migration and Bishop of Austin, Texas, together with Bishop Frank Dewane, Chair of Committee on Domestic and Social Development and Bishop of Venice, Florida. The Bishops refer to the "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Immigrants and Public Benefits" released on Saturday 22 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which, according to the Bishops, "dramatically alters certain longstanding government policies related to legal immigrants' access to essential safety net programs". "The proposal - they explain - brings together a list of strict eligibility guidelines already in place preventing many immigrants from receiving federal aid". This approach "raises fear among immigrant families already struggling to fulfill the American Dream.
Further, it is likely to prevent families from accessing important medical and social services vital to public health and welfare", they note with concern.
A few days before, on September 19th, the same Mgr. Vásquez issued a statement on the announced "Presidential Determination" which establishes the level of refugees allowed into the United States, at 30,000 refugees for 2019. This is the lowest number set in the history of the U.S. refugee admissions program which was formally created in 1980. The president of the Committee on Migration of the Episcopal Conference considers the announcement "deeply disturbing" as "leaves many human lives in danger". "To cut off protection for many who are fleeing persecution, at a time of unprecedented global humanitarian need, contradicts who we are as a nation", said Mgr. Vasquez. "Offering refuge to those fleeing violence, torture, or religious persecution is a cornerstone of our history", he recalls, adding: "Closing our doors on those seeking such safety is not who we are as a people".
The Church strongly calls on the government to "return to a refugee admission level that reflects local community response and support of refugees, global refugee protection needs, and our long history of compassionately welcoming refugees". (SM) (Agenzia Fides, 27/07/2018)