(Washington, D.C., September 19, 2013) — The Jesuit Conference, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, the Kino Border Initiative, and the Ignatian Solidarity Network join in supporting H.R. 3130, the Protect Family Values at the Border Act. This legislation protects the lives of vulnerable migrants and respects principles of Catholic social teaching which honor the dignity of all persons.
Specifically, the Protect Family Values at the Border Act limits nighttime deportations, prevents families from being needlessly separated and imperiled during the deportation process, and creates long overdue standards for Custom and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) short-term custody facilities.
As Jesuit organizations have highlighted before, the U.S. government currently uses several programs which run contrary to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) stated commitment to “safe, orderly, dignified and humane” repatriations and to “preserve the unity of families…during repatriation.” Too often, migrants are separated from the family member with whom they were traveling, and are deported at night to unfamiliar and unsafe border towns after most shelters have closed their doors, a situation which forces them to spend the night without shelter or protection. Additionally, DHS does not take the precarious security situation of northern Mexico into account when making decisions about where and how to repatriate people. Together, these practices endanger the safety and welfare of recently deported migrants.
Additionally, migrants held in CBP custody regularly report substandard conditions including extreme temperatures, lack of food and emergency medical care, and failure to allow contact with their consulates or legal service providers. The lack of access for non-governmental organizations, faith-based organizations and attorneys to CBP facilities limits external oversight of conditions and leaves migrants unaware of their right to seek certain legal remedies or report abuse. Without this kind of information, many legitimate asylum seekers or trafficking victims, who have already endured violence and trauma, unknowingly sign away their right to humanitarian review.
Whether passed as a standalone bill or as part of comprehensive effort to reform our nation’s immigration laws and policies, we hope and pray that the Protect Family Values at the Border Act becomes law. Protecting and promoting the dignity of human life requires us to eliminate dangerous deportation practices that endanger the lives of migrants.