By Sheina Godovich and Mariam Gregorian
We write to express our disagreement with Catholic University’s focus on the March for Life to the exclusion of other issues that implicate Catholic values. In particular, we are dismayed that the University has gone so far as canceling classes to encourage student participation in the March For Life while remaining silent about the zero-tolerance policy towards migrants at the United States-Mexico border. We therefore ask that university leadership please invest equal time, resources, and passion towards this ongoing human rights crisis on American soil.
The zero-tolerance policy towards migrants has included detainment, harsh conditions of confinement, and family separation. We believe this policy violates Catholic values regarding the sanctity of life. For example, 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo died on Christmas Day while separated from his family and in the custody of United States. Beyond that, hundreds of more migrants have died while attempting to seek a better life for their families. Thousands are still being kept in cages, including the youngest and most innocent of children. Recognizing that these are issues of life and death, a number of Catholic leaders and organizations, including Pope Francis and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have taken clear stances against the zero-tolerance policy at the United States-Mexico border. Moreover, when Pope Francis visited our campus in 2015, he specifically said: “Do not be afraid to welcome immigrants. Offer them the warmth of the love of Christ… I am certain that, as so often in the past, these people will enrich America and its Church.”
Despite this truly evil and ongoing assault on the sanctity of human life, The Catholic University of America has thus far remained silent. Even in a recent email specifically devoted to the topic of immigration sent out to the university community on January 12th, there was not a single mention of the zero-tolerance policy. We are not aware of any statements sent out to the university community condemning the policy of forceful separation of young children from their parents, nor have there been organized efforts to use university resources to provide aid for those who have been systematically traumatized by our government. By contrast, the university has long supported and facilitated participation in the March for Life, with a level of focus that we believe has been to the detriment of other causes.
If the university is truly committed to fighting for the dignity of human life, we ask that its leadership honor Catholic values by treating the border crisis with equal attention. Specifically, we ask that the university:
- Make an official statement against the detainment of migrants and separation of family members at the United States border.
- Increase communication regarding activities of the immigration working group established in February 2018 in support of immigrant and human rights.
- Officially support a day of action against the ongoing violations of the right to life at the border.
We do not consider this to be a partisan issue, but rather one of fundamental human rights. To this end, we welcome members of the Catholic University community of all political persuasions who would like to get involved in this cause to sign a petition here: https://goo.gl/forms/SdnbuF0uzAAzBmBn1