Statement of Bishop Joseph Bambera on Current Immigration Situation

July 18, 2019

The image of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, and his 23 month old daughter, Angie Valeria, both of whom drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico to the United States will remain in many people’s hearts and minds for years to come.

When we preach about love and human dignity, we are talking about our moral values. As Catholics, we do not have the privilege of compromising our moral values to match our pre-existing stereotypes or beliefs. When we preach a pro-life ethic, we must stand by this value to defend the unborn, the immigrant, the imprisoned, and all those who are left in vulnerable positions by their government or social circumstances. We cannot rank one of these groups above the others. The Catholic Church is called to seek out those silences and give voice to the voiceless.

We have a responsibility to all people, regardless of race, religion, or immigration status. It is not our role to condemn a family for leaving their country of origin in search of a better future for their children. It is our role to love these people as members of one human family. We must continue to advocate for safe spaces for migrants and especially for children. The privately run detention centers where children are waiting to be reunited with their families are not acceptable. It is time for our leaders to set aside partisan politics and to fix a broken system.  At the center of our faith is mercy without judgment; our pro-life values teach us to protect the innocent at all costs. These children deserve more from America.

Recently, vigils were held in support of migrant families across the Diocese, in communities including Scranton, Stroudsburg and Wellsboro. As these events show, we are called to fight for justice for immigrants and for comprehensive immigration reform. Today and always, we are called to continue the fight for all who are vulnerable: for the unborn, for the struggling mother, and for the father who faces an impossible decision to leave his homeland.

I ask you to continue not only your prayers, but your efforts to speak up against injustice and protect the basic humanity of migrants and refugees.