This year, as the World Day of Migrants and Refugees is celebrated on September 26, Catholics worldwide are called upon to remember those displaced and fleeing conflict, violence, human rights abuses, persecution and climate-related disasters. We draw parallels between the migrants caught in this contemporary crisis and what our Holy Family- Mary, Joseph, and Jesus- endured to escape persecution and imminent death, and to find refuge in Egypt. According to the Gospel of Matthew, “Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age.” (Matthew 25:35-43). We heed Pope Francis’ message on World Day of Migrants and Refugees to be in solidarity with the sojourner by “welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees.” It is our spiritual, moral and humanitarian imperative to put an end to the countless harmful patterns and practices and to build support for protection and aid for migrants seeking asylum.
At this moment we know that migrants seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border are seeking the very refuge Jesus and Pope Francis describe, but have been met with closed doors. While the Kino Border Initiative and many other humanitarian aid organizations at the US-Mexico border celebrated the end of the “Remain in Mexico” or MPP program, and opening a tiny window for a very small percentage of highly vulnerable migrants to be paroled into the US in spring of 2021, they are gravely concerned that at this time there is no access to asylum at ports of entry, and the Biden Administration has not shared any plans to move toward restoring asylum protections in the near future. Instead, they lament that the Biden Administration has been moving further and further from the promise of asylum restoration through continued border closure to asylum seekers, expulsion of asylum seekers to southern Mexico, lateral expulsions designed to disorient, traumatize, and dissuade vulnerable migrants from accessing their legal protections, and the failure to address widely documented, pervasive CBP abuses against migrant families expelled through Title 42 expulsions.
For this reason, we gather today in solidarity with men, women and children seeking protection in Nogales, Sonora and across the border who have been left stranded in uncertainty and exposed to danger and yet continue to organize for change. We ask for God’s protection for them and for conversion of heart for all those in positions of power who continue to deny them refuge at ports of entry across the US-Mexico border. We pray and act for a full restoration of access to asylum for these families that urgently need it.