(CNSNews.com) - In strongly worded statements, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as prominent evangelical leader Rev. Franklin Graham, have denounced an immigration policy that separates illegal immigrant children from their parents.
As reported by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo stated that “asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life” and that illegal immigrant families ought to be able to stay together considering that “families are the foundational element of our society.”
Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement can be seen below:
"At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life. The Attorney General's recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection. These vulnerable women will now face return to the extreme dangers of domestic violence in their home country. This decision negates decades of precedents that have provided protection to women fleeing domestic violence. Unless overturned, the decision will erode the capacity of asylum to save lives, particularly in cases that involve asylum seekers who are persecuted by private actors. We urge courts and policy makers to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to life.
Additionally, I join Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chairman of USCCB's Committee on Migration, in condemning the continued use of family separation at the U.S./Mexico border as an implementation of the Administration's zero tolerance policy. Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral."
As The Hill reported, one bishop even proposed putting “canonical penalties” on Catholics who were involved in separating illegal immigrant families.
For his part, as reported by the Charlotte Observer, Graham said that the separation of immigrant families was “terrible” and “disgraceful,” adding, “I think it's disgraceful, it's terrible, to see families ripped apart, and I don't support that one bit. And I blame the politicians for the last 20, 30 years that have allowed this to escalate to the point where it is today.”
As reported by CBS News, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has defended the separation of illegal immigrant families.
When asked by Hugh Hewitt, a politically conservative radio host, whether it was “absolutely necessary” to separate immigrant children from their parents at the border, Sessions replied, “Yes. What's happening is we are having more people coming bringing children with them entering between the ports of entry, between the ports of entry illegally, and they're not, you cannot give them immunity. That's an offense. We believe every person that enters the country illegally like that should be prosecuted."
According to CBS, based on current policy, when the Department of Homeland Security detains illegal immigrants, it is only allowed to keep the illegal immigrants’ children for up to 72 hours. After that, the children are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services while the parents continue to be prosecuted by the Department of Homeland Security.