“Family separation did not begin with this administration”

Archbishop José Gomez reflects on recent trip to international border at McAllen, Texas

Archbishop Gomez greets young people at the annual procession in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in East Los Angeles in 2015. (Victor Aleman/Angelus News)

I am writing from McAllen, Texas, where I have joined some of my brother bishops to pray and try to bring hope to the hundreds of undocumented children being detained here and in nearby Brownsville.

McAllen is in the Rio Grande Valley, about five miles north of the Mexican border. It is now the center of the humanitarian crisis caused by our government’s policy of separating children from parents caught crossing the border.

Family separation did not begin with this administration. But reports of thousands of children being held in detention facilities across the country has struck a chord in our national conscience. People are waking up to the fact that this is the sad consequence of 25 years of Congress’ failure to fix our broken immigration system.  

When I leave McAllen, I will be heading to Guadalupe, where once more this year we will be presenting the Virgin with hundreds of prayer requests from the faithful in Los Angeles. Many are heartbreaking appeals that she intercede to help loved ones who have been deported or separated from their families.

And as I was making my way to McAllen, about a 150-mile drive, I was reflecting that perhaps we need to start looking at the immigration issue from this side of the border.

When we look with the eyes of Central American peoples fleeing violence and poverty, we see what America means to them — a beacon of hope, a land where it is still possible to find honest work and dream of a better life for their children.

This is the vision of America that has drawn immigrants and refugees since America’s founding.

But many good people today are anguished over immigration. They talk to me about it and write to me all the time.

We are not against immigrants, they say. What we oppose is illegal immigration. We do not like to see our government separating families, they say. But these parents knew the risks when they tried to cross our borders illegally with their children. It is their own fault.

I understand these people’s frustrations.

But when you talk to parents here in McAllen, when you understand the conditions they were living under in their home countries — then you start to wonder what you would do if you were in their shoes.

Knowing their stories may not change our hearts or minds. And it will not change the fact that these parents broke our laws. But knowing their stories should make us thank God every day that we are not forced to make these kinds of choices in our own lives, for our own families.

When you are in a border town, you realize even more the truth that every nation has the duty to secure its borders and enforce its laws.

A commonsense and compassionate solution on immigration is within reach. What we are waiting for is politicians with the courage to do what is right. And we have been waiting for 25 years.

The question is how much longer will we have to wait.

Full story at Angelus News.

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  1. thinking of leaving CA says:

    The archdiocese should change “Angelus News” to “Immigrant News”.

    You’re not a politician, AB Gomez.

    What an easy gig: just put on the vestments, repeat the same tired clichés about welcoming people, shake some hands, give some blessings, get in a car or plane and do it again at the next stop.

    If the archbishop is so concerned, why doesn’t he turn the cathedral plaza into a shelter. No… it’s locked and gated every evening with security patrol. But he wants the U.S. to have an open border.

  2. Chardin says:

    Pretty reasonable statements, I think. I wonder why, though, no one is questioning why those conditions exist that cause people to make such a decision to flee? What is the responsibility of the Central and South American governments and what kind of people let this happen? There is a lot of blame to go around this side of our southern border but it seems to me that most of the blame lies in the countries of origin of the people who are fleeing. Those governments need to be taken to task at least as vigorously as the United States.

  3. Trump supporter in LA says:

    Build the wall. That will fix it. Couldn’t be easier.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dear bishop. You will have to wait until demoncrats are willing to honestly deal with this problem. We need to help these folks in their own country too. We need to help them so they don’t have to flee. That might mean holding the customers of cartels to the same as we should hold the cartels. Where is the political will? We only try to pick up pieces. And the communist/ socialists march on. God help us.

    • Anonymous says:

      That was the Obama administration strategy – to offer aid to the countries and encourage them to deal with corruption and violence so their citizens wouldn’t feel the need to flee. Obviously, it was met with mixed success, but it was a good start.

  5. OH MY GOOODNESSSSSS!!! Dolphins will fly today! elephants will walk on the bottom of the ocean. Modern Jesuits will will speak Greek and Latin and prefer the Extraordinary form en masse. Brazil will lose in the World Cup!!!

    DID A LOS ANGELES ARCHBISHOP JUST MAKE A FAIRLY BALANCED STATEMENT ABOUT IMMIGRATION, i.e., a not emotionally driven, load of PC drivel??? OMG!!!! I can die a happy man!!!

  6. Geeze Louise, why don’t these bishops speak, write, pray and exhort against gay marriage the way they go on and on and on about immigration? Oh, no… gay marriage is “settled law” so they won’t speak out against that, but they speak out against the settled immigration laws. I know there are married gays working in the LA chancery office and in parishes. Gomez knows too.

  7. Thinking of leaving CA also. says:

    How disgusting to think, it’s all about the money!
    Where were you 25 years ago Archbishop? How convenient this issue pulls on your heart strings now. Why didn’t you rise up during Obama’s dictatorship!

  8. Chardin says:

    “…But he wants the U.S. to have an open border.” thinking of leaving CA said.

    “When you are in a border town, you realize even more the truth that every nation has the duty to secure its borders and enforce its laws.” Abp Gomez said.

    • I see right through the bishops says:

      Gomez opposes deporting illegal immigrants. That’s essentially advocating for an open border and for not enforcing immigration laws. The man speaks with forked tongue. You can find multiple instances of Gomez advocating that illegal immigrants be allowed to stay. He can’t be believed when he throws out lines to make him sound reasonable and above the fray. He’s a left-winger who wants open borders. Look where he came from. Where are his loyalties?

  9. Thinking of leaving CA me too says:

    Today it’s reported that priests in Montana are in trouble with their bishop for attending a Trump rally in their clerical garb (Roman collar). Yet the California bishops shamelessly politicize wearing their vestments at the border, giving Communion through the border fence, and using every opportunity they can fabricate to oppose Trump. The bishops are leftists through and through. Get that, and you’ll understand the sad state of the Catholic Church in America today.

  10. Disgusted with CA bishops says:

    If there weren’t money in it for the church via Catholic Charities receiving million$ in federal grants to provide services for immigrants, the bishops wouldn’t care. That’s why they don’t speak against SSM or aborton nearly as much as they shove care for immigrants in our faces. There’s no money in those other things for the church.

    Wanna bet the CA bishops will oppose whoever Trump nominates for Supreme Court? Sure to be a pro-life justice, but the bishops will find reasons to be “concerned” and “cautious” and to lecture the justice in articles and speeches about the need to be open-minded and inclusive and care for immigrants.

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