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Church leaders speak out against “chain migration” terminology

© Ryan Rodrick Beiler /SHUTTERSTOCK
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"Upholding and protecting the family unit, regardless of its national origins, is vital to our faith"

There’s a new term increasingly in use: chain migration.

President Trump referred to it in Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

What it refers to is immigration made through the requests of family members. And some Church leaders aren’t happy with the terminology.

Sister Donna Markham, president of Catholic Charities USA called it “deeply problematic” that political leaders are using the expression and said “families aren’t chains. They are mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, grandmothers, grandfathers and brothers, and sisters.” She said this in a statement January 30.

That same day, Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Migration, also emphasized the importance of family unity, regardless of national origin.

In a statement, the bishops’ leader said:

“We welcome the Administration’s proposal to include a path to citizenship for Dreamers. However, the proposed cuts to family immigration and elimination of protections to unaccompanied children are deeply troubling. Family immigration is part of the bedrock of our country and of our Church. Pope Francis states: ‘the family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation.’ Upholding and protecting the family unit, regardless of its national origins, is vital to our faith. Additionally, in searching for a solution for Dreamers, we must not turn our backs on the vulnerable. We should not, for example, barter the well-being of unaccompanied children for the well-being of the Dreamers. We know them all to be children of God who need our compassion and mercy.

We urge a bipartisan solution forward that is narrowly-tailored. Time is of the essence. Every day we experience the human consequences of delayed action in the form of young people losing their livelihood and their hope. As pastors and leaders of the Church, we see this fear and sadness in our parishes and as such, continue to call for immediate action. Elected officials must show leadership to quickly enact legislation that provides for our security and is humane, proportionate and just.”

Permanent residents can petition to bring spouses and unmarried children to the United States, though the process can take years. Naturalized citizens can file petitions to bring in parents and siblings, but the delay on this process can be even longer.

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