News Detail
Father Thomas H. Smolich, SJ: American Deportation Process In Need of Reform

March 14, 2014 — Father Thomas H. Smolich, SJ, president of the U.S. Jesuit Conference, recently spoke out against U.S. deportation practices endangering human dignity in an op-ed for The Hill, a Washington, D.C. congressional newspaper

Learn more about the Jesuit Conference’s Social and International Ministry’s work on immigration reform here and read Fr. Smolich’s op-ed below.

Deportations and the denial of human dignity

As President Obama’s administration approaches a record-setting two millionth deportation, an immigration enforcement “accomplishment” never achieved by any other president, many faith leaders are rightly focusing on the hardship that each of these deportations inflicts on families and communities torn apart by our broken immigration system. However, lost in this important debate as to whether Obama should suspend deportations is the dangerous manner in which these deportations are being carried out.

Migrants are frequently deported after midnight without identity documents, prescription medications and valuable personal belongings. Families are routinely split up during the deportation process, and men are, at times, deported to Mexican border towns the U.S. State Department has deemed too dangerous for tourists and its own personnel. Inadequate provision for the safety of particularly vulnerable people, including unaccompanied children, pregnant women, and elderly or infirm individuals, is a pervasive concern. Unsafe deportation practices also fuel the organized crime economy of Northern Mexico border towns by supplying women, men and children for robberies, extortions, kidnappings, and trafficking.

My Catholic faith teaches that all people are created in the image and likeness of God, possess human dignity and are worthy of respect. In its memorandum of understanding on the safe repatriation of Mexican nationals, the U.S. government recognizes in word the human dignity of the migrant by demanding that deportations to Mexico be carried out in a “safe, orderly, dignified and humane” manner. However, a review of the evidence indicates that in deed this commitment is not carried out.

Safe deportation procedures would not allow for deporting an individual at 3 a.m. when local shelters close their doors at 9 p.m., leaving the deported migrant at the mercy of local gangs or organized crime for the remainder of the night. An orderly deportation process would not fail to return a migrant’s money, cell phone or documents, stranding him on the border with no way to contact family, journey home, or prove his identity. A dignified deportation practice would not permit the deportation of a woman in serious medical distress without notifying Mexican authorities in advance so they can prepare for her care. A humane deportation does not separate family members, sending a woman and her children to one location while deporting her husband to a town hundreds of miles away without providing any information on the spouse’s whereabouts or how to reunite.

Unsafe deportations and careless disregard for the lives and security of migrants contribute to a humanitarian crisis on the other side of our border.  This reality is undermining our nation’s commitment to preserve and protect human rights globally.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has the authority, opportunity and the moral imperative to reform our nation’s deportation practices. He could do this by ending nighttime deportations and those to particularly dangerous locations, by maintaining family unity during the deportation process, and by ensuring the return of all migrants’ belongings.

It is immoral and intolerable that deportations so often endanger the lives of deportees and cause trauma and tragedy. I join many others in the faith community in calling on the Administration to immediately enact simple deportation safeguards to protect migrant lives.

(Click here to download a PDF illustrating the crisis of unsafe deportations)


Recent News

September 26, 2016 — Two years after Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey, opened a center for undocumented students, it continues to be a place of harbor and hope.

September 23, 2016 — Thirty Catholic high schools throughout the world are taking part in the Ignatian Carbon Challenge, which is working to raise environmental awareness.

September 21, 2016 — This fall, 47 new Jesuit novices joined the Society of Jesus in Canada, Haiti and the U.S., the largest group of novices in the last 10 years.

September 21, 2016 — Jesuit Father Ante Gabric, a Croatian missionary who at times worked alongside Mother Teresa, is a candidate for sainthood.

September 19, 2016 — Fr. Fitzgerald died Sept. 17. He stepped down as president of Jesuit High in New Orleans in 2014, after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease.

September 16, 2016 — Tomorrow is the feast day of Saint Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621), a Jesuit who was one of the most important cardinals of the Catholic Reformation.

September 14, 2016 — The video features interviews with five Jesuits preparing to be priests and is designed to reach young men and draw them to the Jesuits’ vocation site.

view all news

Search news

Publications
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America 9/19/16

America 9/12/16

America 8/29/16



Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House
Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House, located in Grand Coteau, La., has provided a beautiful setting for retreats since 1938.