This is Iraq. Citizens from this country can now enter the United States despite the initial refugee ban created by President Trump on January 27, due to a revision he made in early March. While 50,000 individuals are able to enter the country during the fiscal year 2017, citizens from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya are still prohibited.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have taken a stand and are publicly speaking out on the issue of immigration. Speaking for the USCCB on the Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe Vasquez, recently said, "We believe welcoming newcomers and refugees is an act of love and hope. The U.S. Catholic Bishops will redouble their support for, and efforts to protect, all who flee persecution and violence."
Priests and bishops all across America are not only writing about this on their blogs or on Twitter, but are preaching about it from the pulpit.
CARD. BLASE CUPICH
Archdiocese of Chicago
"There is great joy that the Church experiences day after day as it works with migrants and immigrants. As it's involved in literacy programs and teaching people English; of helping them get a job, of our Catholic charities reaching out to people who are in need.”
However, this joy mentioned by Cardinal Cupich is impossible if people are crippled with a fear of the unknown, of a different culture and beliefs. To combat this, the bishops want to not only welcome the refugees, but humanize them. One cardinal personally did this by spending time in the Middle East getting to know the people and their stories, Cardinal Mahony.
CARD. ROGER MAHONY
Archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles
"We're trying to put a human face on these people. In Los Angeles, we've resettled huge numbers of refugees over the years from everywhere in the world, and even new ones now, in these days. So the efforts we can take to introduce them to the rest of the community, that's what changes people's minds. We change the heart first, then the mind.”
American Catholics are noticing the stance that U.S. bishops are taking as a result of the recent political actions taken by the new president. One example is a global ambassador for Leadership Roundtable, an organization which promotes excellence and best practices in the Catholic Church through management, finances and human resources development.
"I've been really impressed with the Church just recently in the United States at the courage that bishops in particular have taken on refugees and immigration. You'll see a number of prominent leading members of the USCCB coming out very strongly in favor of welcoming the stranger. It's right there in the Gospel for all of us to see. So it's difficult and intense in the United States, but I've sort of never been prouder of our bishops than in recent weeks.”
With this topic and the idea of welcoming the stranger mentioned many times in the Bible, perhaps it is a subject that should not be overlooked, regardless of which country one resides.