San Bernardino Bishop: Trump Administration immigration policy is an attack on the family

Separation of children from their parents violates Church teaching on human dignity, Bishop Barnes says

Bishop Gerald Barnes

The following is an excerpt from a recent writing of Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino:

We are called to take notice of and respond to specific situations and challenges that impact family life. One very painful and egregious example of this is recent reports of tactics now being carried out by federal immigration enforcement officials in regard to undocumented persons and their children.

We have long said that current federal immigration law has the tragic effect of separating families. Now we are seeing this play out before our very eyes. In a continuation of its divisive rhetoric and actions on the issue of immigration, the administration of President Donald Trump has declared a “zero tolerance” policy for those who cross the southwest border of the United States without documentation. This means that parents are detained and immediately put into deportation proceedings while any children that are with them – no matter how young – are held separately in detention facilities for an indeterminate period of time. 

How does experiencing this kind of trauma of separation affect a child? What are the long term effects on their psyche and on their faith? As people of faith, what is our responsibility to these children? These are questions we should ponder as we pray for and put ourselves in solidarity with families caught in this terrible circumstance.

Immigration policy is surely a hot-button political issue and a complicated one. It stirs feelings in some of us that, when respectfully expressed, need to be heard and considered.  At the same time, this mean-spirited and dehumanizing behavior from our government leaders, the separation of children from their parents, cannot in any way be reconciled with what our Catholic faith tells us about human dignity, family and the call for us to care for the poor, the migrant and refugee.

Full story at Diocese of San Bernardino website.


  1. Elizabeth M. says:

    Other alternative is to incarcerate children with adults. What do you do with unaccompanied minors then?

  2. Its really sad to see so many bishops serving as lackeys for the Democratic Party. As the good bishop well knows, anytime a parent commits a crime and goes to jail if they have kids, they are separated from them. ALL administrations preceding President Trump did not hesitate to enforce the law. This is nothing new. This is nothing more than a histrionic attempt to generate sympathy for a practice that is destroying American families. Maybe he should spend some time studying the impact open borders has on the economy of this country and the well being of all our people, regardless of race, creed, or gender. His concern is a lie.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wrong. Jeff Sessions personally announced this new policy about a month ago at a public event. And even kids who belong with parents who fully legally presented themselves at the border for processing got separated from their parents.

      Whatever “crime” you think they have done, keep in mind a few things: Innocent until proven guilty, and this is a crime on par with a traffic violation. Would you have your kids taken from you if you are caught speeding?

  3. Gratias says:

    Central American Illegal Aliens should not bring or send their precious children here. The US has to send these children back to where they belong. Ours is Nation, not a funding source for illiterate masses trying to make our social system implode à la Clowen and Piven. The California Bishops are Democrat partisans that should give to Cesar what belongs to Cesar. In this case, it means National Borders with a Beautiful Wall and improved wages for Americans, and no Anchor Babies.

  4. Not my bishop thank God.

  5. Steve Seitz says:

    Is this separation of parents from their children being done electively or is there a law or regulation that requires separate handling of adults and children. If the latter, then President Trump is not mean-spirited but is only following the law.

    Does anyone know if there’is a law in play here?

    • Anonymous says:

      There is no such law.
      “Some migrants have admitted they brought their children not only to remove them from danger in such places as Central America and Africa, but because they believed it would cause the authorities to release them from custody sooner.
      Others have admitted to posing falsely with children who are not their own, and Border Patrol officials say that such instances of fraud are increasing.” NYT

  6. American Hector says:

    Thank you Bishop Barnes for having the courage to speak up against this inhumane policy which is contrary to the teachings of Christ and his Church. The implementation of this new policy is a crime against humanity and a sin!

  7. STDs that had been eradicated in the U.S. and other developed countries have reemerged in California at alarming infection rates in the past two years. Illegal immigrants, unchecked when they enter our country, from undeveloped nations have brought those diseases to our country. When the bishops call for “justice for the immigrant” they are putting the United States people at risk. Shame.

  8. Clinton R. says:

    I wish the bishops would have been this vocal about the abortion vote in Ireland. From the Pope on down, nary a word was said about it.

  9. Tee Bohnar says:

    Like those immigrating here illegally did not have any inclination, knowledge that sepaeraion from their children WOULD be the case?
    PLEASE! The word is out with the over active “grape vine” as to what are the procecures upon their aroival in the USA.
    But, rather than face the facts of the complicity of these illegal immigrants, let’s blame that mean USA.
    Sniff shiff.

  10. Maria M says:

    This is the same Catholic bishop who took the train all the way from San Bernardino to Washington, D.C. just to be there for the Inauguration of Obama!!!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    You can go to a legal port of entry and apply for asylum and you will not be separated from your children.

    • Bob One says:

      Anon, that is not true. They are separated from their parents when they apply for asylum. Please, look at the fact and not at the fake news.

      • Anonymous says:

        You do need to bring proof that it is your child, like a birth certificate.

      • Anonymous says:

        Here is an “asylum seeker” who knew better and still committed the crime then was separated from her children.”So she crossed across the river in South Texas in March of this year and presented herself to the border officials that she encountered with her children on the U.S. side of the border. She had made the conscious decision not to present herself at an official bridge or port of entry.” NPR
        i have only heard of one person who entered legally being separated from her child and she did not have proof that the child was hers. The ACLU claims there are more but they are not documenting their claim.

  12. St. Christopher says:

    Idiotic comment from someone without portfolio to comment at all.

  13. Just one of the reasons why our family living in the Diocese of San Bernardino has stopped contributing to the diocesan “special collections, ” including the annual diocesan development fund, an exception being the two annual collections for retired priests and other retired religious.

  14. Maria M says:

    Bishop Barnes’s judgment is influenced more by his Leftist politics than by his Catholic faith.Is Bishop Barnes ever going to criticize the government of Mexico for its role in illegal immigration an illegal drug trafficking>?

  15. Danijela Brekalo says:

    As a legal immigrant to this country and an American citizen, i am sick and tired of hearing these false arguments. Who is responsible for anything that happens to these children brought here illegally? Their parents who took the risk of coming here illegally and who put their children in jeopardy. Who is to blame for anything bad that happens to these children? Their parents who knew when they came into this country that what they are doing is against the law, and decided to do it anyway, for whatever reason. They knew that it was a huge risk, that they have no rights in this country or any other country in the world they were not citizens off, and they still put themselves and their children in that position. Now they need to be willing…

  16. Anonymous says:

    Obama did the same thing. How come no one got mad at him?

  17. Bob One says:

    Anon, that is not true. They are separated from their parents when they apply for asylum. Please, look at the fact and not at the fake news.

  18. Danijela Brekalo says:

    Barack Obama once said “elections have consequences.” So do all our decisions. People who come to this country (or any other country) illegally, know they are putting themselves and their families at risk, and they know they are risking many bad things that could happen because they decided the law does not matter to them. And they pushed the law aside and come to this country, they lived and worked here as if they had every right to do so. And when they get caught, we are bombarded with sob stories and complaints of how cruel this country is.I am an immigrant who came LEGALLY, obeying all the laws, providing all the paperwork, paying all the fees, not ever relaying or expecting any agency to help or support me in any way. I learned the…

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