Washington D.C., Mar 14, 2019 / 17:32 pm America/Denver (CNA).
Catholic leaders released a statement this week in disagreement with the United States’ expansion of a policy that restricts asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We oppose U.S. policy requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while waiting to access protection in the United States. We urge the Administration to reverse this policy, which needlessly increases the suffering of the most vulnerable and violates international protocols,” the statement read.
Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, and Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, released the joint statement on March 13.
First implemented in January, the Migrant Protection Protocols require asylum seekers at the San Ysidro border crossing to remain in Mexico while immigration courts process their case – a procedure that may take years. In previous administrations, asylum seekers were often permitted to remain in the U.S. while awaiting their court dates.
The U.S. government announced Tuesday that the program would now be expanded to the border crossing in Calexico, which is about 120 miles outside of San Diego. Department of Homeland Security officials stated that 240 asylum seekers have been returned to Mexico since the policy was enacted. They anticipate that the number will grow significantly as the program expands.