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Sisters of Mercy Condemn Disparaging Rhetoric Against Refugees

October 30, 2018

The Leadership Conference of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, which gathered last week in Madison, Connecticut, wholeheartedly condemns the ongoing disparagement of refugees fleeing violence in Central America by President Trump, Administration Officials, and their allies.

This unconscionably false and misleading rhetoric must stop.

As a congregation of Catholic women religious who have long ministered in countries throughout Central and South America including Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, we understand firsthand why individuals flee their homes in search of safety and a better life.

We need only look at the photos coming out of southern Mexico. These migrants are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, children fleeing unspeakable violence and tremendous economic and social instability. They travel together because there is safety in numbers, and they are looking for safety and peace. They deserve our empathy, recognition of their right to have asylum claims heard, and not the response proposed by the current Administration.

To our sisters and brothers on the caravan, we state unequivocally you are welcome here!

We are committed to shining a light on the forces that compel individuals to leave their homes in desperate search for protection and survival. Rather than blaming the victims⸺the fleeing refugees⸺we call for reflection on how failed U.S. economic and security policies, as well as its militarized approach to the war on drugs, have fueled the violence and misery from which people are running for their lives:

  • Unfettered Free Trade Agreements (1994 for NAFTA; 2006 for CAFTA) eliminated domestic protections for food production in the Northern Triangle countries; and the flood of cheap U.S. corn and other staples forced millions of small farmers off their land, unable to compete, and unable to even feed their children.
  • Decades of U.S. interventions in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have included military support, political pressure and financial assistance to prop up elites and support repressive governments.
  • In Honduras, where the caravan originated, the U.S. supported the 2009 coup, which opened the country to organized crime and drug cartels. The United States continues to provide military and police support for a government accused of massive human rights abuses and repression, which worsened after their election in November 2017.

The United States is a nation largely built by immigrants. As these migrant refugees continue their long and dangerous journey to freedom and protection, they deserve our heartfelt compassion and solidarity, and even more importantly, their legal right to seek asylum.   

We must commit to be a country that treats all people humanely and implements a just and generous asylum system. This is not a time to militarize or close our borders, or be ignorant of our own role in the root causes of migration. Now is the time to stop the fear mongering and demonstrate our shared humanity in how we respond.   

We applaud the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which has called for the “welcome and humane treatment of migrants.”

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