The U.S. bishops' conference welcomed President Joe Biden's immigration actions on Wednesday, while one Catholic group decried the continuance of deportations.


On Tuesday, the White House announced several executive actions on immigration reform; these included the creation of a task force to locate separated immigrant families, ordering a review of Trump-era restrictions on asylum seekers, and an order seeking to address the root causes of migration from Central America.


The chair of the migration committee at the U.S. bishops' conference (USCCB) welcomed the actions, saying they "will help to ensure that immigrants and refugees are treated humanely and in accordance with their God-given dignity."


"Actions implemented by the prior administration on these issues have directly impacted and harmed immigrants' and refugees' lives, in many cases needlessly instilling fear and creating or perpetuating family separation," stated Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, D.C. and USCCB migration chair.


However, the executive director of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Anna Gallagher, pleaded for a stop to deportations of asylum-seekers that were ordered by the Trump administration and scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 3.

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Although President Biden previously ordered a 100-day halt to some deportations of immigrants, a federal judge on Jan. 26 suspended that order. Deportations ordered by the Trump administration were allowed to go into effect.


Those included for removal on Wednesday included Haitian asylum-seekers, immigrant families detained in Dilley, Texas, and "dozens of people who fled atrocities in Cameroon, Angola, and other countries," Gallagher said on Tuesday.


"No human being should be sent back to harm. When our government shirked that responsibility for four years, people died," Gallagher stated.


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Among its immigration actions, the White House announced on Tuesday that the administration will review the previous halt to new asylum grants during the COVID-19 pandemic, and would consider how to receive asylum seekers who were affected by the previous "remain-in-Mexico" policy.


The administration will also consider reviving the Central American Minors program.


"We know that changes will take time but applaud President Biden's commitment to prioritize assisting our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters," Bishop Dorsonville stated, while offering the bishops' "assistance and cooperation on these urgent matters of human life and dignity."


The group Jesuit Refugee Services also praised the executive actions.


"The US can lead a comprehensive migration policy and protect the human rights of forcibly displaced persons and refugees in the Americas region," said Monica Gomez, advocacy officer for Jesuit Refugee Service LAC.


"The entire continent is facing profound challenges of forced migration, which require democratic changes in countries of origin and greater support for cooperation in countries of transit and destination," Gomez said.