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October 28, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – The General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters issued the following statement in response to the news that 545 immigrant children are still separated from their parents.
Let the little children come to me …
for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.
Our hearts ache in anguish over the plight of 545 boys and girls who were willfully separated from their parents by the Trump Administration in 2017 under a “pilot program” of separating migrant families, deporting the parents to Central America without their children and with no means of tracking them for reunification.
The abject cruelty of this “program” is horrifying. The grave harm done to these innocents is unconscionable.
These children came to our country with their parents. By order of the Trump Administration, the minors were taken from their parents, who were then deported, while the children were kept in U.S. custody. In 2018, court orders required the Trump Administration to reunite an estimated 2,800 children they had separated through what they called their “zero-tolerance” policy. Non-governmental groups have been working hard to do so but have not been able to locate the parents of 545 of these children.
The plight of these children is a national nightmare that reflects the debasement of our polity. It is a painfully particular nightmare for each of the 545 innocents and their grieving parents. Please join us in speaking out fiercely so that our government undertakes every effort to reunite these children with their parents – and in praying that they are successful.
Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ General Council are Sisters Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor; and Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor.
September 18, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – At a time when so many issues and crises are grabbing the attention of the U.S. public, about 200 organizations that work with and advocate for immigrants and refugees in the United States have endorsed an immigration reform plan that they hope will be a blueprint for the next administration.
“There’s no doubt that our immigration laws need to be changed, to be worked out,” said Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, immigration attorney. During a September 15, 2020 presentation, she reviewed immigration reform efforts from the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted amnesty to many people who lived in the United States without legal status, through 2013, when a “very fine” immigration reform bill initiated by four Republican and four Democratic Senators failed to pass in the House of Representatives.
But since 2016, Sister Attracta said, those efforts have been undermined – and hopes are that efforts to reform the immigration system will be strengthened in the 2021 Immigration Plan. While outlining the 10 steps of the plan, Sister Attracta also described the current situation in which immigrants endure much suffering, discrimination, insecurity, and fear of being deported to their native country – which many fled for their lives.
For example, step one in the plan is to “prioritize equity and harm reduction in the immigration system.” This step includes reinstating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA was designed to help young immigrants – ages 15 to 30 – to apply for deferral of deportation, giving them time to get a social security card and a driver’s license – and work toward legal status, Sister Attracta said. Most of the “Dreamers” applying for DACA have known the United States as their only home and fear the prospect of being deported to a country they don’t know.
President Trump called for an end to DACA in 2017, she said, and while the Supreme Court in June 2020 let the program stand, it has been diminished and does not allow for new applicants.
Step 10, Sister Attract said, would “restore and improve the U.S asylum, refugee, and other humanitarian programs.” The United States has accepted fewer and fewer refugees into the country, she said. In addition, the system of offering asylum to people facing persecution and death in their native countries has been dismantled.
Starting in 2018-2019, “asylum seekers were sent back into Mexico to live on the streets and in tents with no access to counsel” until they received a court date for their case to be heard. Many are now sent back to what is designated as “the safest place” in Central America to await court hearing – yet none of these nations are truly safe because of struggles with war or other crises, she said.
Sister Attracta concluded by encouraging her viewers educate themselves on immigration issues; speak out on the injustices of the system and the benefits that immigrants bring to the United States; advocate with legislators for a just immigration system; and “welcome the refugee, immigrant, and asylum seeker.”
Read the 2021 Immigration Plan and watch the video of Sister Attracta’s presentation below.
Presentation Slides (PDF)