Bishops: U.S. law ‘harmful’ to immigrants, refugees


New legislation implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission is "extremely harmful to immigrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees," says the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' migration committee.

Bishop Thomas Wenski, coadjutor of Orlando, wrote a letter, urging members of the U.S. House to oppose certain sections of the bill. He says a number of provisions in the bill “will have serious ill effects on immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers to this nation without necessarily making our nation safer.

"Many reach beyond the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission report,” he observes.

The bishop underlined that the bill would require aliens in the United States to use only a foreign passport or identification issued by the U.S. Department of Justice or Department of Homeland Security. Consular identification cards, issued by foreign governments, would no longer be allowed.

The provision would also increase the period an immigrant is subject to expedited removal – the process by which an immigration officer (not a judge) can deport an immigrant – from two years to five years.

The bishop says several sections of the bill would undermine standard due-process protections for immigrants.

“The bill also establishes four new evidentiary standards for asylum-seekers, severely limiting the opportunity for bona fide asylum-seekers to receive protection in the United States,” says a USCCB press communiqué.

Under one section of the bill, someone claiming to be a victim of torture would have to provide "clear and convincing" evidence, beyond the standards established under the UN Convention Against Torture.

"This would raise the likelihood that torture victims would be sent back to their torturers," Bishop Wenski says.

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