WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - Catholic members of leftist lobbyist group the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) slammed President Trump in a letter this week after he suspended all immigration to the United States citing Wuhan virus fears and the need to protect American jobs.
"In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!" Trump announced.
IIC has more than 55 different national, faith-based organizations under its umbrella, all of which profess a decidedly leftist bent on immigration. The group opposes a southern border wall, supports increasing the number of immigrants the United States takes in annually and favors granting citizenship to illegal aliens.
Overlooking that Trump's immigration ban applies to all countries, IIC member Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of Catholic social justice lobbying group Network, is calling Trump's move "racist" and claiming her faith teaches that welcoming immigrants is a sacred moral duty. She also suggested the president is trying to blame immigrants for what she says are his own failures in handling the Wuhan pandemic.
Jill Marie Bussey, IIC member and director of advocacy at Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. echoed Sr. Simone's sentiment.
"The pandemic and its economic fallout, like other societal problems in this country, should not be blamed on immigrants," she said. "At this pivotal moment, we need leadership, truth, unity and pragmatism that rises above politics."
"Lives are at stake, yet the president continues to stoke fear and racism, using human beings as fodder," Bussey added. "We are a nation of immigrants and we will not be divided."
Lawrence E. Couch, director for the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, claimed the president "earned the skepticism," and argued that because the United States did not shut down its borders during World War II, the country's doors should also remain open amid the Wuhan crisis.
Couch did not address the president's reasoning behind the ban — to help stem further job losses. More than 26 million unemployment claims had been filed as of Friday as a result of state lockdowns.
Protestant IIC members made their voices heard, as well. For example, Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, dismissed concerns over joblessness.
"The economic piece is equally misguided," said Vignarajah. "We have shown again and again that immigrants strengthen the American economy. The loss of work affecting millions of American citizens has nothing to do with immigration and everything to do with the pandemic."
The IIC ignores Trump's exemption of agricultural workers from the ban.
"We want them to come in. We're not closing the border so that we can't get any of those people to come in," he explains. "They've been there for years and years, and I've given the commitment to the farmers: They're going to continue to come. Or we’re not going to have any farmers."
Trump's ban also excludes temporary workers. He is also considering exemptions for essential employees in high demand fields like health care.
In the face of criticism from the IIC and its allies, Trump defends the economic reasoning behind his policy, affirming, "It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad."
In recent weeks, Trump has also made national security a top priority by expanding restrictions on travel, slowing visa processing and deporting illegal aliens — measures the IIC has yet to comment on.
Meanwhile, in spite of the leftist coalition's distaste for the immigration ban, the Department of Homeland Security is moving ahead with drafting procedures and is expecting these to be completed by the end of April.