Catholic Bishop Escorts Migrants over Border to Protest U.S. Immigration Policy

POLITICS & POLICY
El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz walks beside Honduran migrant Cesia and her parents at Paso del Norte international border crossing bridge to help them to ask for asylum, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, June 27, 2019. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

A Catholic bishop escorted migrants across a bridge spanning the U.S.–Mexico border on Friday in an act of protest against U.S. immigration policy.

El Paso bishop Mark Seitz escorted groups of migrants back and forth across the Lerdo International Bridge as part of his “Faith Action” protest against the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, which require that certain asylum-seekers remain in Mexico while their claims are being adjudicated.

Some 15,000 asylum-seekers are now waiting in crowded conditions along the border in Mexico for their claims to be adjudicated, according to El Paso’s KVIA-TV. “There is a critical lack of access to shelter, food, legal aid, and basic services” in Ciudad Juarez, where many of the migrants are waiting to enter the U.S., Seitz said.

Seitz, 65, condemned U.S. authorities for treating migrants as “worse than animals” and for viewing “fleeing children and families as threats” and demanded that they be allowed to remain in the U.S. while awaiting a decision on their asylum applications.

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“Standing here at the U.S.–Mexico border, how do we begin to diagnose the soul of our country?” Seitz asked reporters in both Spanish and English.

Seitz was joined by Reverend Javier Calvillo, director of Casa del Migrante, the diocesan migrant shelter. Together, the two clergymen escorted a group of migrants back across the border to Mexico after they were turned away by Border Patrol.

Some 144,000 migrants arrived at the border seeking asylum in May. The record numbers have overwhelmed federal resources and led to unhygienic and, in some cases, inhumane conditions in Border Patrol and Department of Health and Human Services detention facilities.

Congress on Thursday passed a $4.6 billion emergency spending bill to alleviate the humanity crisis.

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