DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - The U.S. bishops are criticizing President Donald Trump for an immigration crackdown unfolding this week.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials began a nationwide crackdown on Sunday, launching police actions to target illegal immigrants who have been given court orders to leave the United States.
The American bishops are speaking out against the ICE crackdown. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said in an official statement on Tuesday, "Enforcement actions like those anticipated this week by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency separate families, cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents, and create widespread panic in our communities."
"I condemn such an approach," the USCCB's president continued, "which has created a climate of fear in our parishes and communities across the country."
He noted, "I recently wrote the President asking him to reconsider this action."
Cardinal DiNardo declared in a later section of the statement, "I urge the President to reconsider these actions, the new rule, and its enforcement-only approach. I ask that persons fleeing for their lives be permitted to seek refuge in the U.S. and all those facing removal proceedings be afforded due process."
DiNardo's statement was sent out to the U.S. bishops in the form of a memo, referring to the cardinal's comments as a "Presidential Statement of His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo."
American bishops have spoken out against Trump's immigration policies repeatedly during his presidency.
During a USCCB meeting in June 2018, Bp. Edward Weisenburger of Tuscon, Arizona, opined that Church leaders can use canon law to punish those who enforce U.S. immigration law. This comment drew support from prelates like Bp. John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky. But many Catholics objected to the idea, arguing that American bishops often fail to speak out against pro-abortion lawmakers or block them from Holy Communion.
A joint statement from the USCCB in February 2018 called for a "National Call-In Day for Dreamers," encouraging Catholics nationwide to call lawmakers and encourage them to protect "DREAMers," migrants who were brought into the United States illegally as children, from being deported.
As part of that call-in day, Cdl. Blase Cupich of the Chicago archdiocese staged an on-camera phone call with pro-abortion senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
In late February 2017, Cdl. Cupich sent out a letter to priests of the archdiocese lamenting President Trump's executive orders related to immigration policy.
Cupich's letter gave instructions on how priests can make it more difficult for immigration officials to enter church grounds. He encouraged priests to ask to see the warrant, to deny permission to enter and to contact the archdiocese's Office of Legal Services.
Acting ICE Director Matt Albence spoke about the current immigration crackdown in an interview with FOX & Friends on Sunday. Albence took exception to using the term "raids" in reference to the crackdown, saying, "We are doing targeted enforcement actions against specific individuals who have had their day in immigration court and have been ordered to be removed by an immigration judge. We are merely executing those lawfully issued judges' orders."
A common criticism raised against the ongoing crackdown is that ICE's raids might lead to the deportation of other illegal immigrants who are not subject to court removal orders but are living in the same homes as those who are.
Mayors in several major U.S. cities are pushing back against this week's ICE crackdown.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democrat, told CNN on Friday, July 12, "These are people going to church wondering if there's going to be somebody when they come out of services. These are folks going to a park, a picnic, celebrating birthdays."
He continued, "It will spread fear to that entire community and to the U.S. citizens that are a part of their families."
Garcetti also put out a video on Twitter directed to illegal immigrants, telling them, "Remember, you have the right to remain silent. You don't have to open your door to an ICE agent that doesn't have a warrant signed by a judge. You have the right to speak to a lawyer before signing any documents or speaking to law enforcement."
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Twitter on Saturday, July 13, that he received word of "attempted but reportedly unsuccessful ICE enforcement actions" in two neighborhoods. De Blasio's tweet included a short video telling immigrants, "You have rights," and directing them to hotlines related to immigration law.
That same day, Houston's mayor, Sylvester Turner, also a Democrat, declared in a statement, "The president's order for concentrated ICE raids against immigrant families in Houston and elsewhere stands against everything we represent as a welcoming city."
She went on to say, "As mayor, I stand with all Houstonians regardless of their documentation status."