Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Opinion

Column: Compassion for immigrants, refugees will keep America great

I am deeply saddened and concerned by President Donald Trump's recent executive orders that stand in stark contrast to the foundations upon which our nation was built.

Such orders call for the building of walls along our border with Mexico, increased deportation and detention of the undocumented, punishments against so-called sanctuary cities and counties, and a halt to refugee resettlement. These actions compromise our respect for the dignity of the human person and efforts to work toward the common good. Last week, we marched in defense of unborn human life. Today, we join in solidarity with people from around the world who cry out on behalf of the immigrant and the refugee since all people bear the image and likeness of God.

Our nation is largely composed of immigrants and descendants of immigrants. The United States has always been a safe haven for those fleeing religious persecution and violence. The vast majority of immigrants and refugees are hard-working people who have fled their homes out of desperation, seeking safety and a better life for themselves and for their children. They live, work and pray in our midst. The United States is a better country due to their contributions. We call again for comprehensive immigration reform that respects due process, family reunification and a path toward earned citizenship that is not burdensome in terms of time and cost.

In his address to Congress in 2015, Pope Francis commended the United States for being welcoming to immigrants and refugees. On the day of our new president's inauguration, Pope Francis sent his good wishes along with a reminder of our nation's responsibility as a world leader, saying, "At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation's commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide."

The need for the United States to show leadership in welcoming refugees and providing freedom from persecution is more urgent than ever. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there were more than 66 million displaced persons in the world at the end of 2015. They are victims of violence and terror — literally fleeing for their lives. Most have lost family members and all have lost their homes, their country and their way of life. They are people just like you and me. They deserve the best that we have to offer.

The process of accepting refugees is not well understood. Refugees face a lengthy and thorough vetting process before they are admitted to our country. In 2016, the United States welcomed 84,995 refugees, which is only a small fraction of those forcibly displaced around the world today. Creating a ban on resettlement from specific countries is un-Christian and un-American.

While respecting the president's primary duty to keep our country and citizens safe, I stand with and support our immigrant and refugee sisters and brothers. I call on all people of faith and goodwill to not remain silent when the language of fear and intimidation conveys a false impression of who immigrants and refugees are and what brings them to the United States.

We must not allow fear to numb us to the suffering of others. As the inscription on the Statue of Liberty reads, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Let our nation continue to be a beacon of hope.

Bishop Gregory L. Parkes leads the Diocese of St. Petersburg, which includes the 432,000 Catholics in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.

Comments
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18
Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Gov. Rick Scott has headed down a dangerous path by announcing he has started the process to fill three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court as he heads out the door. But to his credit, the governor indicated his "expectation’’ is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

After an encouraging start, the breakdown in America’s reset with Cuba is a loss for both sides and for the state of democracy across the region. Havana and Washington are both to blame, but the Trump administration’s hard line with Cuba is out of sy...
Published: 09/12/18
Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

If the swift departure of CBS Chairman Les Moonves has a bright side, it’s that a major television network took accusations of sexual harassment against its chief executive seriously enough to hold him accountable and obtain his resignation even at t...
Published: 09/11/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Banks should not shut down campaign accounts for marijuana ties

Editorial: Banks should not shut down campaign accounts for marijuana ties

Two banks have taken the retaliatory step of closing down the campaign account of a statewide candidate because she received contributions from the medical marijuana industry. Nikki Fried, the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner, has been...
Published: 09/10/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Florida Supreme Court wisely kills misleading charter school amendment

Editorial: Florida Supreme Court wisely kills misleading charter school amendment

Voters should know what they’re voting on, which is why the Florida Supreme Court was entirely correct to strike the deviously worded Amendment 8 from the Nov. 6 ballot. The amendment would have significantly expanded charter schools in Florida by le...
Published: 09/10/18
Updated: 09/11/18
Editorial: Genshaft steered USF to new heights — and it should keep climbing

Editorial: Genshaft steered USF to new heights — and it should keep climbing

University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft, who announced Monday she will retire in July, will leave behind a remarkable legacy. The university’s longest-serving president led USF’s transformation from a commuter school to a destination univ...
Published: 09/10/18