Our Lady of Guadalupe is a model for how Catholics should treat immigrants, said Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit. He called for family unity and a recognition of the good that migrants and refugees bring to society.

"As disciples of Jesus Christ and sons and daughters of Our Lady of Guadalupe, our local Church bears Our Lady's message of hope to the needy and listens to the cry of the afraid. Under her protection, know that we stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters," he said Dec. 9.

"In these days it is particularly right to turn our thoughts and prayers to the migrants and refugees, those who find themselves on the margins of our community," the archbishop added.

U.S. immigration policy is entering a new phase with the election of President-elect Donald Trump after a contentious campaign. The U.S. bishops' conference has long backed comprehensive immigration reform, but the Republican president-elect campaigned on a strong immigration restrictionist platform.

Many Catholic bishops have spoken out to reassure immigrants of the Church's support for them. The Archbishop of Detroit was among them.

While public officials' duty includes protecting national borders and enforcing laws, "it cannot end there," the archbishop said. This duty must include ensuring the dignity of human persons, protecting families, and showing "a generosity commensurate with the blessings our nation has received."

"Therefore, our immigration system must treat migrants and refugees with the same dignity as native-born citizens," he continued. "It must recognize the fundamental wrong of separating families, particularly when children are involved. And it must not be blind to the rich contribution made – in the past and in the present – by men and women who have come to this country as migrants or refugees."

Archbishop Vigneron said the Detroit metro community is "much richer" from the contributions of people from Mexico, El Salvador, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, China, Korea, Ukraine, Poland, Cameroon and Nigeria.

The archbishop's statement aimed to mark the Dec. 12 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as the Dec. 9 feast of St. Juan Diego, the indigenous Catholic convert who saw the famous Marian apparition in early colonial Mexico.

For Archbishop Vigneron, Our Lady of Guadalupe is a "powerful witness to the tender mercy of God."

"Under the mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we, the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit, commit ourselves to bring compassion and companionship to those who struggle, who are afraid or desperate," he said. "Having experienced God's love for us in giving us Mary as our Mother, how can we be deaf to their cries?"