The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns condemns President Trump's emergency declaration and calls on Congress to enact immigration policies that protect human rights.
February 15, 2019
Today, President Trump declared a national state of emergency. Yesterday, Congress passed a funding bill that includes an increase in immigrant detention and $1.375 billion for wall construction. The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (MOGC) condemned both the emergency declaration and the legislation.
“The Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed by Congress increases both deadly immigrant detention and the militarization of border communities,” said Susan Gunn, Interim Director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. “While the deal includes a cap on detention space, it is ultimately meaningless since, at the same time, the bill gives Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the freedom to divert funds from elsewhere to exceed that cap. The fact that the President is also declaring the U.S.-Mexico border a ‘national emergency’ in order to circumvent congressional oversight and divert federal funds toward his border wall is unjust and unconstitutional.”
“What is the just and humane way to secure our borders and treat those fleeing persecution? It is not with more immigrant detention and a border wall,” Gunn said.
MOGC has long called for the end of immigrant detention and the demilitarization of border communities. When immigration detention rates skyrocketed in 2016 under the Obama administration, MOGC advocated to Congress to eliminate the detention bed quota for immigrants and implement alternatives to immigrant detention. “Detaining men, women, and children who are fleeing persecution and violence demeans the God-given human dignity of these vulnerable people,” MOGC wrote to Congress. “Alternatives to detention such as community-based models and case management are effective at ensuring people comply with immigration court proceedings, are more affordable, and fundamentally fair.” And when, in 2017, Congress considered increasing funding for a border wall and further militarized infrastructure along the U.S.-Mexico border, MOGC and 38 interfaith organizations with experience on the border issued a joint statement urging Congress to reject such funding because border walls hurt communities, increase risk of floods, infringe on the rights of indigenous border communities, and ultimately do not deter migration. “As communities of faith, we believe that government spending should reflect our values," our statement reads. "Funding for further border militarization falls far short of these values."
“We call on President Trump to reverse this declaration and instead implement policies that protect human rights,” said Gunn. “And we call on Congress to take real action to address our broken immigration system and care for vulnerable people asking our nation for refuge.”