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USCCB President and Bishop Chairmen Urge Department of Homeland Security to Defer Deportation of Refugees Who Have Escaped Religious Persecution

WASHINGTON—The President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston as well as the Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, have sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly, urging him to defer deportation of those persons to Iraq, particularly Christians and Chaldean Catholics, who pose no threat to U.S. public safety.

The letter has been sent to specifically address the pending deportation of dozens of Christian and Chaldean Catholics in Michigan and Tennessee.

While the bishops recognize that some of the individuals may have orders of deportation because they have committed criminal offenses in the past, they are gravely concerned that they would then be sent back to a country where religious persecution and persecution against ethnic minorities remains an ongoing threat. The letter states that "the fact that they have a significant risk in experiencing persecution, and even possible bodily harm because of their faith is, from our moral perspective, an important factor to be weighted in the calculation to deport." 

The full letter to Secretary Kelly can be found here:  https://justiceforimmigrants.org/uncategorized/1287/

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Secretary John F. Kelly, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez , Bishop Oscar Cantú, Committee on Migration, Committee on International Peace and Justice, Christians, Chaldean Catholics, deportation, legal refuge, refugees, religious persecution, ethnic minorities.

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USCCB President and Chairman of Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Respond to Terror Attack at Mosque in London

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs have issued a joint statement in response to Sunday's attack on worshipers outside a mosque in London.

The attack occurred after a van plowed into a crowd existing a mosque after Ramadan prayers near Finsbury Park located in north London.

The full joint statement follows:

"We would like to express our deepest condolences to the people of London who once again woke to the news of a terrorist attack.  Our prayers extend especially to the community of Muslims from Finsbury Park Mosque in North London whom it appears were the intended victims of the attacker. 

Once again, in this now sad reality of regular acts of terror that are meant to destroy life and to crush hope, we remember that light has overcome darkness once and for all. Let us be united in hope and with one voice reject utterly all forms of terror and violence that seek to dissuade us from the pursuit of a culture of life and solidarity. 

The Bishops of the United States unequivocally reject such acts of violence and plead with all people to cease from committing or plotting to commit further acts.  

In this dark hour for the people of London, especially the Muslim community, please know that we stand in solidarity with you, mourning for the loss of life and praying for the victims, their families, and the entire nation." 

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, mosque attack, Muslim community, Finsbury Park, London, terror attack, culture of life, solidarity, violent extremism, peace.

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U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Chairman of International Justice and Peace Statement on Cuba Policy Changes

WASHINGTON—President Donald J. Trump recently announced modifications to existing U.S. policy towards Cuba that will impact travel by U.S. citizens to the island, as well as U.S. commercial relations with Cuban government-controlled entities.

In the following statement, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, expressed regret at the scaling-back of U.S. engagement with Cuba, while also appreciating the President´s concern for the human rights situation on the island.

Full statement follows:

"On the eve of my pastoral visit to Cuba at the invitation of the Cuban bishops, I was saddened to learn that President Trump scaled-back our country's bilateral engagement with the island nation. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in solidarity with the bishops of Cuba and the Holy See, has long held that human rights and religious freedom will be strengthened through more engagement between the Cuban and American people, not less. For decades, we have called for the U.S. travel ban and embargo against Cuba to be lifted.

In my capacity as international chairman, I urge that as the implementing regulations are drafted the President consider the ramifications for many ordinary Cubans who have taken advantage of new opportunities to support their families. The President is correct; serious human rights concerns persist. The Cuban government must be urged to respect religious freedoms and to extend greater social, political and economic rights to all Cubans. The fruits of investment in Cuba should benefit individuals and families, and not the security forces.

Pope Francis helped our nations to come together in dialogue. It is important to continue to promote dialogue and encounter between our neighboring nations and peoples."

For more information about the Committee on International Justice and Peace regarding Cuba, please visit the following page on the USCCB website: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/latin-america-caribbean/cuba/

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, President Donald Trump, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Cuba policy, bilateral engagement, Pope Francis, Holy See, religious freedom, human rights, economic rights, investment, security, dialogue, encounter.

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Judy Keane
202-541-3200

World Refugee Day 2017, International Day Celebrating Refugees to be held June 20

WASHINGTON—World Refugee Day 2017 will take place June 20th with celebrations noting the contributions of refugees occurring locally, nationally and globally. The international day provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the global refugee situation and the success of resettled refugees.  The world is experiencing the largest forced migration crisis since World War II with more than 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, including 21 million refugees worldwide.

"World Refugee Day is a day where we highlight the achievements of refugees.  Refugees are like all people, unique children of God," said Bill Canny, Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Migration and Refugee Services. "We hope to see this year's celebration of World Refugee Day create greater awareness and appreciation on both the community and national level."

As part of the 2017 World Refugee Day celebration, the USCCB will be hosting a World Refugee Day Kick – Off event at the National Press Club on Monday, June 19th, featuring Bishop Mario Dorsonville of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC and Admiral Garry Hall Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for International Organizations and Alliances, ‎National Security Council. Additionally there will be two panels, one which focuses on the domestic aspects of refugee resettlement and the other which highlights the international protection needs of refugees.

This year will be the 17th year that the United Nations has officially recognized June 20th as World Refugee Day.  Many nations around the globe celebrated World Refugee Day prior to 2001, with one of the most widespread events being Africa Refugee Day, which had been celebrated on June 20.

Educational materials and other resources for World Refugee Day are available for download at https://justiceforimmigrants.org/take-action/world-refugee-day/. For more information on events in your area or to submit an event, email USCCB/MRS Communications Manager Mark Priceman (mpriceman@usccb.org).

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vazquez, Committee on Migration, refugees, migrants, immigrants, human trafficking, National Migration Week

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USCCB President Extends Bishops’ Working Group on Immigration

INDIANAPOLIS—Recognizing the continued urgency for comprehensive immigration reform, a humane refugee policy and a safe border, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has extended the bishops Working Group on Immigration.

Cardinal DiNardo made the announcement on the second day of the 2017 Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis.

The working group is chaired by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles. Other members of the working group include the chairmen of the following USCCB committees: Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration; Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Social Development; Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Pérez of Rockville Centre, New York, chairman of the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs; Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants; and Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

Activities carried out by member-chairmen of the working group included statements responding to executive orders on interior enforcement, sanctuary cities, and refugee resettlement; and on legislation including the BRIDGE Act, which would provide temporary relief from deportation to youth previously protected through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The group also facilitates diocesan resources such as policy reports, prayers, educational materials, action alerts and pastoral accompaniment, and has held frequent communications among the members to discuss concerns and priorities. They also share episcopal guidance with outside partners such as Catholic Relief Services; Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.; Center for Migration Studies; and Catholic Charities USA.

Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Vásquez presented an oral report to the full body of bishops on the activities of the working group on June 14.

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, June meeting, Spring General Assembly, Indianapolis, Committee on Migration, U.S. Bishops' Working Group on Migration, migration, migrants, refugees, Strangers No Longer, asylum, protection, human dignity, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
media-relations@usccb.org

USCCB’s International Justice and Peace Chair Urges Solidarity with Those Suffering Religious Persecution in Asia, Middle East

INDIANAPOLIS—"Persecution has a face," said Bishop Oscar Cantú, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, as he presented an oral report to the full body of bishops on the situation of religious discrimination and persecution in Asia and the Middle East.

The oral report is based on his participation last year at the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference Plenary Assembly in Sri Lanka, where he represented the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). During the year, Bishop Cantu also took part in other solidarity visits to India, Iraq and the Holy Land, where he met with bishops, refugees and persecuted people.

"Tragically, religious persecution and harassment is not limited to one or two regions in our world," said Bishop Cantú. Citing statistics from the Pew Research Center, Cantu noted that "Christians are harassed in the largest number of countries, 128, followed closely by Muslims in 125 countries. This is partly due to the fact that Christians and Muslims are the largest religious groups in the world."

Harassment consists of both social hostilities and government restrictions. It can include physical assaults, arrests and detentions, desecration of holy sites, and discrimination in housing, employment and educational opportunities.  In Asia, Bishop Cantú learned about concerns in countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Malaysia.

"At times, it rises to persecution and genocide," Bishop Cantú said. Regarding the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Iraq, he called it "a crisis within a crisis" and argued that "to focus attention on the plight of Christians is not to ignore the suffering of others." A focus on Christians and other minorities strengthens "the entire fabric of society to protect the rights of all" and is "inclusive" of a concern for "both minorities and majorities, both Christians and Muslims."

Bishop Cantú highlighted the efforts of the local Church in Iraq to reach out to all in need in partnership with Caritas Iraq and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). He also pointed to the importance for the U.S. Church in following the lead of the local Churches enduring persecution in expressing solidarity, particularly in Syria and Iraq.

Even in the midst of persecution there are moments of joy. He contrasted the image of "a tent camp for Christians" covering "the Church grounds across the street from our hotel" in Erbil with attending "the ordination of three deacons in Erbil" where "the Cathedral erupted [in joy] when a displaced man from Mosul was ordained."

In his report, Bishop Cantú also highlighted the following recommendations for the U.S. government that include:

  •  Providing assistance to refugees and displaced persons, including through faith-based organizations like CRS:
  • Assisting in the resettlement of refugees, including victims of genocidal actions and other vulnerable families.
  • Encouraging central and regional governments in Iraq and Syria to strengthen the rule of law based on citizenship, to insure the protection of vulnerable minorities, and to improve policing, judiciary and local governance with the help of U.S. assistance.

He also invited the Church and Catholics in the United States, who wish to help, to:  

  • Pray for those suffering from persecution.
  • Become aware of the Christian presence in the Middle East and of an accurate understanding of Islam with openness to dialogue with Muslim neighbors. Resources are available at: www.usccb.org/middle-east-christians.
  • Donate to non-profit Catholic organizations such as CRS, Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), Aid to the Church in Need and the Knights of Columbus.
  • Advocate with the U.S. government for assistance and the dignity of refugees.

Bishop Cantú also shared with the bishops the research study In Response to Persecution, conducted by the University of Notre Dame's Center for Ethics and Culture, the Religious Freedom Institute, and Georgetown University's Religious Freedom Research Project. The study is available at: http://ucs.nd.edu/assets/233538/ucs_report_2017_web.pdf.

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Christians, religious persecution, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Malaysia, Syria, Iraq, Caritas Iraq, Catholic Relief Services, CRS, CNEWA, Aid to the Church in Need, Knights of Columbus, genocide, Muslims, resettlement, U.S. government

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
media-relations@usccb.org

Bishops Vote on Permanent Committee for Religious Liberty, Revised Guidelines for Celebration of Sacraments for People with Disabilities

INDIANAPOLIS—The U.S. bishops voted on and approved a number of items including, establishing a permanent Committee for Religious Liberty and the revised Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, during their Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis, June 14.

The bishops voted to approve establishing a permanent Committee for Religious Liberty. The proposal received a vote of 132 votes in favor, 53 votes against and 5 abstaining. The USCCB's Committee for Religious Liberty seeks to strengthen and sustain religious freedom by assisting the U.S. bishops, individually and collectively, to teach about religious freedom to the faithful and the broader public, and to promote and defend religious freedom in law and policy.

The revised Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities were approved by a 180-1-0 vote. The document is a revision of an earlier version, last updated in 1995. These new Guidelines take into account medical and technological innovations of recent years, and emphasize the importance of the inclusion of all members of parishes. While not legislative in nature, they will be a helpful resource for dioceses and parishes. This vote required support of the majority of the Latin Church members of the USCCB.

The bishops also voted 178-3-0 in favor of a new translation of the Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism. This brief ritual is used each year at the Chrism Mass, which is celebrated during Holy Week in most dioceses. This vote also requires a two-thirds vote of the Latin Church members of the USCCB with subsequent confirmation by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The Bendicional: Sexta Parte, a collection of blessings in Spanish for use in the United States, which will complement English texts already included in the Book of Blessings. The proposal received 171 votes in favor, 2 votes against and 2 abstaining, falling short of the required two-thirds vote of the Latin Church members of the USCCB. Therefore, the voting will be completed by mail ballot with the Latin Rite bishops who are not present. After passing, it also requires subsequent recognitio by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The U.S. bishops' Spring General Assembly is livestreamed and available at: www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/index.cfm.

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, June meeting, Spring General Assembly, Indianapolis, Ad-Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Sacraments, persons with disabilities, Oil, Chrism, Bendicional

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MEDIA CONTACT
Norma Montenegro Flynn
media-relations@usccb.org

USCCB Working Group on Immigration Presents Update During Bishops’ Assembly

INDIANAPOLIS—The chairmen of the U.S. Bishops' Working Group on Immigration, and the Committee on Migration, presented an oral report to the full body of bishops on the work done to advance collaboration in developing spiritual, pastoral and policy advocacy support for refugees and immigrants. The presentation took place at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Spring General Assembly in Indianapolis, June 14.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, respectively, spoke about the origins, activities and continued collaboration of the working group, which was established following the November 2016 General Assembly.

"There was a desire to express solidarity with and pastoral concern for those at risk, but also a desire to avoid encouraging exaggerated fears," Archbishop Gomez said.

Other group members include: Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Social Development; Auxiliary Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Rockville Centre, New York, chairman of the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs; Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants; and Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

Activities carried out by member-chairmen of the working group included statements responding to executive orders on interior enforcement, sanctuary cities, and refugee resettlement; and on pieces of legislation including the BRIDGE Act, which would provide temporary relief from deportation to youth previously protected through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The group has also facilitated diocesan resources such as policy reports, prayers, educational materials, action alerts and pastoral accompaniment, and has held frequent communications among the members to discuss concerns and priorities. They have also shared episcopal guidance with outside partners such as Catholic Relief Services; Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.; Center for Migration Studies; and Catholic Charities USA.

Although this oral report concludes the formal work of the Working Group on Immigration, the coalition of USCCB committees will continue collaborating as needed under the leadership of the Committee on Migration.

"In short, it is to convey a comprehensive vision for immigration reform, to paint a fuller picture of what justice means, and what mercy means, with respect to migrants and refugees in our country today," said Bishop Vásquez. "Our purpose will be to move beyond simple reaction to the various negative proposals we have seen lately—and expect to see for some time to come, albeit at a slower pace—and to proactively raise and advance the issues that we would prioritize."

Bishop Vasquez also highlighted the importance to seek initiatives based on the five principles of the 2003 pastoral letter Strangers No Longer, which states:

  • People have the right to find opportunities in their homeland
  • People have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families
  • Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders
  • Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection
  • The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected

More information on the work of the USCCB's Committee on Migration, recent statements and other resources are available at: www.justiceforimmigrants.org.

The U.S. bishops' Spring General Assembly is livestreamed and available at: www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/index.cfm.

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, June meeting, Spring General Assembly, Indianapolis, Committee on Migration, U.S. Bishops' Working Group on Migration, migration, migrants, refugees, Strangers No Longer, asylum, protection, human dignity

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
317-860-6534

President of U.S. Bishops Conference Appoints Four New Members of National Review Board for the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People

INDIANAPOLIS — Four new members have been appointed to serve on the National Review Board (NRB) by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The NRB advises the bishops' committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, and the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection at the USCCB.  The NRB was established by the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in 2002.

As Cardinal DiNardo said in a letter sent to all newly appointed members, "The National Review Board plays a vital role as a consultative body assisting me and the bishops in ensuring the complete implementation and accountability of the Charter… The whole Church, especially the laity, at both the diocesan and national levels, needs to be engaged in maintaining safe environments in the Church for children and young people."

The four new NRB members include those with expertise in communications, psychology and victim outreach, and the medical field and they are as follows:

Ms. Amanda Callanan, Director of Communications for the Claremont Institute, has occupied several positions in the communications field—including digital and broadcast development for The Heritage Foundation, public relations for Fortune 500 clients at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, corporate branding and strategy with a boutique agency in Baltimore, and direct-response marketing for the National Association of Corporate Directors' educational events and programs. She attended Loyola University in Maryland, is married and resides within the Archdiocese of Washington.

Ms. Suzanne Healy was the Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from 2007 through 2016. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with experience in private practice and as a high school counselor. Healy also has 18 years of business management and strategic planning experience with AT&T Pacific Bell. Healy has a BS in Psychology and an MS in Counseling, M.F.C.C. option, with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential with Advanced Specializations in School Counseling and Child Welfare and Attendance Services, both from California State University at Los Angeles. Healy was an Executive Board Member of the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health Faith Based Advocacy Council, and a Committee Member for Los Angeles City Attorney Office Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium in Los Angeles from 2008 – 2016.  In 2016, Healy received the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Department of Health Affairs Excellence Award. She is married with two adult children and currently volunteers as a counselor.

Dr. Christopher McManus is the owner and President of CP & RP McManus, MD, Ltd where McManus practices Internal Medicine in the Diocese of Arlington, VA. He is active in the Northern Virginia Guild of the Catholic Medical Association and is a charter member and current leader for Privia Medical Group.  McManus was a professor for Georgetown University Medical School from 1998-2006 and has served as a Physician Advisor for Quality Resource Management. McManus served his residency training at the University of Vermont and received his degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine.  He currently serves on the Arlington County Executive Board and has previously served as President of the Arlington Medical Society. Other volunteer activities for McManus include serving at the Arlington Free Clinic, volunteering in the Medical Reserve Corps for the Arlington County Health Department, and local service to his home parish. He has been married for over thirty years, has four adult children, and enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.

Ms. Eileen Puglisi held the position of Director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Young People in the Diocese of Rockville Centre where from 2003-2014.  Her prior work history involves director level work at various Psychiatric Centers in New York, including Deputy Director of the Queens Children's Psychiatric Center. Puglisi received a Professional Degree in School Psychology from St. John's University in New York and an M.S. in Guidance and Counseling from Hunter College in New York. She has direct experience as a psychologist and is an avid golfer.

Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, will continue to chair the NRB until his term expires in 2020.

Details regarding the National Review Board, its functions and other members can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/about/child-and-youth-protection/the-national-review-board.cfm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, National Review Board (NRB), Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, sexual abuse, child and youth protection, Charter for Protection of Children and Young People.

Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

USCCB Chairman Welcomes Ninth Circuit Decision Upholding Preliminary Injunction on Refugee Resettlement Pause and Travel Ban

INDIANAPOLIS—On June 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit largely affirmed a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of sections of the Administration's executive order that attempted to suspend and limit the U.S. refugee resettlement program and also attempted to ban the entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries.

A statement from Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the Committee on Migration regarding the Ninth Circuit ruling follows:

"I am heartened by the decision of the 9th Circuit to maintain the temporary halt implementing certain provisions of the March 6th Executive Order. Upholding the injunction will allow us to continue welcoming and serving refugees fleeing persecution. Together with my brother bishops, we believe it is possible to simultaneously provide for the security of our country and have a humane refugee policy that upholds our national heritage and moral responsibility. We remain dedicated to accompanying and supporting our brothers and sisters who for various reasons have been forced to leave their homeland. We follow the example of Pope Francis and pledge to them "a duty of justice, civility and solidarity."

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, executive order, refugees, resettlement, injunction, court, Muslim, countries

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MEDIA CONTACT
Norma Montenegro Flynn
Media-relations@usccb.org