REACTION TO IMMIGRATION/REFUGEE ORDERS

On Friday, President Trump issued an order related to refugees. According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the order will virtually shut down the refugee admissions program for 120 days, reduce the number of refugees to be admitted from a goal of 110,000 to 50,000 people, and indefinitely suspend the resettlement of Syrian refugees. (Click here for a Nov. 2015 statement from the Iowa bishops on the Syrian refugee issue. )

In the order, the president also prioritized religious minorities suffering from religious persecution, thereby deprioritizing all other persons fleeing persecution; put in place a temporary bar on admission to the United States from a number of countries of particular concern (all Muslim majority); and imposed a yet-to-be determined new vetting process for all persons seeking entry to the United States.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Migration, stated: “We strongly disagree with the Executive Order’s halting refugee admissions … We will work vigorously to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed in collaboration with Catholic Charities without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans, and to ensure that families may be reunified with their loved ones.”

Regarding the Executive Order’s ban on Syrian refugees, the prioritization of religious minorities suffering from religious persecution, Bishop Vásquez added: “The United States has long provided leadership in resettling refugees. We believe in assisting all those who are vulnerable and fleeing persecution, regardless of their religion.”

Bishop Vásquez referred to the more than 65 million people who have been displaced from their homes by war and other causes. “Given this extraordinary level of suffering, the U.S. Catholic Bishops will redouble their support for, and efforts to protect, all who flee persecution and violence, as just one part of the perennial and global work of the Church in this area of concern.”

On Wednesday, the president issued an order that would deny federal funding for jurisdictions that choose not to cooperate with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. Bishop Vásquez said, “I have enormous respect for and value our federal law enforcement agents who risk their lives every day to enforce our immigration laws. I also recognize that there may well be situations where local governments feel they need to foster a relationship with their communities by working with the victims of or witnesses to crime without instilling a fear that by coming forward, they or their family members will be handed over to immigration authorities.”

Many Iowa counties do not automatically hold immigrants for ICE if they would be otherwise released.

TAKE ACTION NOW TO STAND UP FOR REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS

You are encouraged to contact the president and your members of Congress and stand up for refugees and immigrants. Click here for an alert and sample message.

The U.S. Catholic bishops’ Justice for Immigrants campaign also has an alert on the same page in support of the BRIDGE Act, which was recently introduced in Congress as a bipartisan effort to sustain temporary relief from deportation and employment eligibility offered to youth through the Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Click here for more information from the Iowa Catholic Conference regarding Church teaching on migration and refugees.

PRESIDENT RESTORES ‘MEXICO CITY POLICY,’ CONGRESS PASSES NO TAXPAYER FUNDING FOR ABORTION ACT

On Jan. 23, President Trump restored the “Mexico City Policy” and extended its requirements to all U.S. programs that provide assistance around the world.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, offered the following statement in response: “We applaud President Trump’s action today to restore the Mexico City Policy, which withholds taxpayer funds from foreign non-governmental organizations that promote or perform abortions overseas (often in violation of the host country’s own laws). This is a welcome step toward restoring and enforcing important federal policies that respect the most fundamental human right – the right to life – as well as the long-standing, bi-partisan consensus against forcing Americans to participate in the violent act of abortion.”

According to a Marist Poll released last week, an overwhelming majority (83 percent) of Americans support policies like the Mexico City Policy. This includes 73 percent of respondents who identify as “pro-choice.”

Last Tuesday the U.S. House passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7) with bi-partisan support, 238-183. The bill codifies a permanent, government-wide policy against taxpayer subsidies for abortion and abortion coverage. It also requires health plans offered under the Affordable Care Act to disclose the extent of their coverage for abortion and the amount of any surcharge for that coverage to consumers. The bill goes to the Senate.

SENATE FILE 2 ADVANCES OUT OF SUBCOMMITTEE, ACTION REQUESTED

Back here in Iowa, we appreciate that many of you have contacted your Senator regarding our own state version of the Mexico City Policy. Senate File 2 advanced out of subcommittee last week and is eligible for consideration by the full Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bill sets up a state-funded family planning program, which is intended to duplicate the current federal-state program. The main change is that abortion providers would not be able to receive funding.

We support this bill because it redirects some government healthcare funds away from abortion providers. We believe life is sacred. Abortion is a direct assault on the lives and dignity of women and children, and the rejection of our obligation to one another. We think it makes sense that family planning funds should not be diverted to organizations that perform and promote abortions, instead of the stated purpose of reducing them.

Some people are saying this bill will take all of abortion providers’ government money away. For right or wrong, this is not true. The bill only addresses the Medicaid family planning waiver program, not other sources of government funds.

If you haven’t sent a message to your Senator, please do. Click here for more information and a sample message.

CELEBRATING CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK

Catholic Schools Week has begun. This year’s theme, “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service,” focuses on the important faith-building, academic and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education.

Our friends at the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education had a great turnout for its National School Choice Week event last week. Check out our Facebook page for some photos.