A Chicago Catholic cardinal instructed diocese priests this week to shut the doors of the parishes on immigration authorities unless they’re holding a warrant. Catholic school principals have been instructed to the do the same.
In a letter to Chicago priests, Cardinal Blasé Cupich wrote:
“If an immigration official does want to come onto the premises, before you allow them to enter please ask for identification, the reason for the visit, and any documents they have, such as a warrant…
“If they do not have a warrant and it is not a situation that someone is in imminent danger, tell them politely they cannot come on the premises.”
The cardinal’s instructions follow in the wake of new guidelines issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DNS) for enforcing Trump’s sweeping plans to hire more immigration enforcement agents and widen the targets for deportation. The new guidelines also authorize officers to conduct more raids in immigrant communities, according to the Chicago Tribune.
New directives and expanded targets have left immigrant communities in fear across the nation, particularly Latinos. In Cook and Lake Counties in Illinois, which encompass the city of Chicago, 44 percent of the dioceses’ 2.2 million parishioners are Latino.
Cardinal Cupich’s letter continued:
“With this letter, I want to express my support as we stand together in solidarity with many of our parishioners who are deeply troubled by the recent executive orders related to immigration.
“Their trust in you and the Church is prompting them to come to you for support, spiritual guidance and compassion. We need to stand together and clearly make it known that the Archdiocese of Chicago supports the dignity of all persons without regard to immigration status.”
Although Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has largely spared churches from enforcement raids, according to The National Catholic Reporter, there are no laws in place requiring them to refrain from doing so. On Feb. 8, ICE officers arrested a number of immigrants as they were leaving a church homeless shelter in Alexandria, Virginia, and six men were taken away by agents.
Cardinal Cupich warned diocese priests from designating their churches as sanctuaries:
“It would create false hope that we can protect people from law-enforcement actions, however unjust or inhumane we may view them to be.”
According to Church World Service, a faith-based organization, the number of churches in the U.S. offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants has doubled to 800 since the election of Donald Trump.
Cardinal Cupich also spoke out publicly against Donald Trump after the execution of a travel ban against entry for those from seven predominantly Muslim countries in January, calling it “a dark moment in U.S. history.”
Chicago Catholic school principals were instructed not to share student records with ICE agents without a court order and to also turn away any authorities not in possession of a warrant. Catholic school principals were also told to update emergency contact information for families, as were 650 Chicago Public schools, in case of family members or guardians being detained by ICE.
Jim Rigg, superintendent of Chicago Catholics schools added one more piece of advice:
“For many of our immigrant families, the image of Our Lady evokes comfort and reverence. For many of our immigrant families, the image of Our Lady evokes comfort and reverence.”
You can read the entirety of Cardinal Cupich’s letter to the priest at the Archdiocese of Chicago website.
Featured image via youtube screencapture