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Pastoral Letters | Friday, June 21, 2019

Informative letter to pastors from Archbishop Thomas Wenski regarding immigration

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I have been advised that there is evidence that a major nation-wide immigration enforcement operation will be conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This operation may commence as early as Sunday. Apparently, the operation will focus on newly arrived families who crossed the Southern Border and have been ordered removed. South Florida represents the seconding largest population of families resettled from the border.  

ICE Acting Director has indicated that ICE does not have the resources to undertake a mass deportation initiative. It is certainly true that ICE does not have the capacity to hold many additional individuals, as existing detention facilities are all over-capacity. However, the plan may focus the agency’s limited resources on a very targeted population: recent arrivals from the Border with a final order of removal (please know that many of these individuals may not even know that they have been ordered removed because they never received notice of the hearing).   

In certain communities, including South Florida, these families have received “case management” services from an ICE contractor. ICE would have access to the information provided to the case manager, including addresses and contact information for these clients. By prioritizing this group, the Administration hopes to accomplish its deterrence policy through targeted, publicized raids aimed at maximizing fear and confusion. Of course, anyone who gets caught because of this operation – whether or not they fall into the prioritized group—will face removal. 

The best response is to quietly remind people that they should remain vigilant, reduce public activities, refuse entry to anyone purporting to be law enforcement without a warrant.   

ICE maintains that the agency complies with its internal policy regarding sensitive locations, which includes churches and schools: “The ICE sensitive locations policy, which remains in effect, provides that enforcement actions at sensitive locations should generally be avoided, and require either prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official or exigent circumstance necessitating immediate action. DHS is committed to ensuring that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so without fear or hesitation.” 

Click here to read the complete statement. 

Additionally, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc (CLINIC) has an excellent website which includes “know-your-rights” guides in many languages including Spanish and Haitian Creole.  

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