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Diocese stands in solidarity with immigrants

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Diocese stands in solidarity with immigrants


Diocese stands in solidarity with immigrants

April 19, 2017

OAKLAND – Using the annual Holy Thursday custom of feet-washing, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, is highlighting the Diocese of Oakland’s solidarity with immigrants who have been affected by recent policy decisions of President Donald Trump.

On Thursday evening, April 13, Bishop Barber washed the feet of eight people representing various populations present in the Diocese, including people from Fiji, Mexico, Nigeria, The Philippines and Vietnam.

The rite is part of the Catholic Church’s official rituals, and was expanded in 2016 by Pope Frances to “signify, in a powerful way, the love we are called to have for one another,” according to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship.

“The Diocese of Oakland supports the dignity of all persons without regard to immigration status,” Bishop Barber said. “The Church stands in solidarity with those who are currently living ‘in the shadows.’”

Federal policies are disproportionately affecting children, according to Cristina Hernández from the Office of Life and Justice in the Diocese. In California, half of all children (about 4.5 million) are members of immigrant families. About one in six children in California have at least one undocumented immigrant parent. The instability created by changes in ICE policies means those children are more likely to miss school, not receive medical treatment and be vulnerable to housing and food insecurity. “These children are the future of our state,” Hernández said. “It is immoral to cause them and their families to suffer. And if one is motived by economic reasons, this is the future workforce of California that is being punished.”

Acknowledging the U.S. bishops affirm every nation has the right to establish and control its borders, and to prevent criminal activity, Bishop Barber said that deportation is not a humane or proportional approach to immigration enforcement. “Just because someone is here in the U.S. without documents does not automatically make them a criminal,” he wrote a statement released March 28 to the priests of the Diocese. “Someone who has received a speeding ticket has also broken the law. But we don’t brand them criminals.”

The Diocese has implemented several measures in response to the increased pressure by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These include:

  • Requiring ICE agents to have proper legal warrants before allowing agents into Catholic parishes and schools.
  • Continuing to provide resources and services through Catholic Charities of East Bay and the St. Vincent de Paul Society for those needing food, shelter and legal aid.
  • Conducting training regarding legal rights and protections for individuals, regardless of immigration status, throughout the diocese.
  • Ongoing advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. “At present there is no reasonable way for many people to legally get visas to enter, or remain legally, in the USA,” Bishop Barber explained.

Bishop Barber’s full statement may be found on the diocesan website at http://www.catholicvoiceoakland.org/2017/04-03/bishop.htm and visit http://www.oakdiocese.org/immigration for resources.

The Diocese of Oakland serves Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the East Bay region.

For more information, contact:

, Communications
Diocese of Oakland
2121 Harrison Street, Suite 100
Oakland, CA 94612

Media Inquiries

These resources are made available for use in print, web and broadcast media.

Please contact the Office of Communication and Community Relations for more information or for site visits, interviews or credentials:

Helen Osman
Interim Communication Director