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In far-reaching executive order, Biden redefines 'sex'

Denver Newsroom, Jan 21, 2021 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- In one of his first acts in office, President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to interpret sex discrimination in federal law to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The move could impact high school sports, the privacy of single-sex bathrooms, faith-based organizations that are government grantees or contractors, and whether employees may face retaliation for voicing “discriminatory” religious beliefs.
 
“This executive order is a massive overreach,” John Bursch, senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group, told CNA Jan. 21. “It essentially has the effect of taking the word ‘sex’ and ‘sex discrimination’, anywhere those words appear in federal law, and converting them to include sexual orientation and gender identity.”
 
He warned that the executive order’s redefinition of sex will result in “a destructive effort to re-invent reality and destroy long-standing protections for women and girls,” even if this is not immediately evident.
 
“Redefining ‘sex’ to mean ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ isn’t equality, and it isn’t progress,” he said. “The reason for that is that biology is not bigotry. When the law does not respect biological differences between men and women, it creates chaos and it hurts women and girls.”
 
Saying the Catholic Church has recognized such differences for millennia, Bursch added, “it’s unfortunate that the government is now choosing this to be the very first act it is going to engage in to ‘unify the country’.
 
The executive order, titled “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation,” declares Biden administration policy “to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”
 
The order, which Biden signed on the day of inauguration, discusses children’s access to restrooms, locker rooms, and school sports; access to health care; and workers whose dress “does not conform to sex-based stereotypes,” among other topics.
 
The order drew comment on social media, where some critics used the hashtag #BidenErasedWomen.
 
Ryan Anderson, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told CNA the order means, “Boys who identify as girls must be allowed to compete in the girls’ athletic competitions, men who identify as women must be allowed in women-only spaces, healthcare plans must pay for gender-transition procedures, and doctors and hospitals must perform them.”
 
“It spells the end of girls’ and women’s sports as we know them,” he said. “And, of course, no child should be told the lie that they’re ‘trapped in the wrong body,’ and adults should not pump them full of puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones,” said Anderson, author of the 2018 book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.
 
Bursch said that the executive order would also redefine “sex” in Title IX, which governs education and sports. One client of Alliance Defending Freedom was affected by a similar effort to redefine gender, allowing biological boys to compete against girls in girls’ sports.
 
“This isn’t something theoretical, it’s already happened,” he said. In Connecticut, two males who identify as females have won 15 girls state track and field titles since 2017.
 
“One of our clients, Chelsea Mitchell, has lost four state championships to one of those males competing in the girls’ division,” he said. “In that respect, this is not equality, this is not progress, this is anti-women.”
 
That case led to vigorous protests and a successful legal injunction.
 
The redefinition of sex has also led to problems for women’s shelters.
 
“In Alaska, the City of Anchorage insisted that a women’s overnight shelter, allow a man identifying as a woman to sleep mere feet away from women who had been raped, trafficked and abused,” Bursch said. “We had to go to court to protect the overnight shelter’s ability to not have biological men in the space with those abused women.”
 
Biden’s executive order claims to build on the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court decision Bostock v. Clayton County, which held that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination in employment also includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
 
The ruling, authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, was deliberately narrow in scope, but Biden’s executive order adds: “Under Bostock‘s reasoning, laws that prohibit sex discrimination — including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as amended, the Fair Housing Act, as amended, and section 412 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended,  along with their respective implementing regulations — prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, so long as the laws do not contain sufficient indications to the contrary.”
 
Bursch said that the Bostock decision was narrowly phrased to hold that an employee could not be fired solely on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It deliberately avoided questions about dress codes, privacy in restrooms, and women’s sports.
 
In his view, however, Biden’s executive order “dramatically expands it” by “applying it in all kinds of areas where the court never said (to), where the court said the exact opposite.”
 
Describing the consequences, he said “a ‘tidal wave’ is the phrase that comes to mind.”
 
Anderson said the executive order was “radically divisive transgender policy.” He characterized Gorsuch’s decision as showing “simplistic logic.”
 
“Privacy and safety at a shelter, equality on an athletic field, and good medicine are at stake for everyone,” said Anderson. “We can—and should—defend commonsense policies that take seriously the bodily differences that provide valid bases in some areas of life (locker and shower rooms, athletics, women’s shelters, healthcare) for treating males and females differently (yet still equally).”
 
 
Biden’s executive order said “all persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.”
 
“Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love,” said the order. “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.  Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes.  People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination.”
 
Bursch said the rule change could affect religious organizations that are government contractors or grant recipients.
 
“For a Catholic charity that does human development work and has a contract with the government to do that, it’s entirely possible that the government will require the Catholic charity, in the government’s view, not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” he said. This means “forcing Catholic and other religious entities to give up their most deeply held beliefs about marriage and the human body.”
 
While the Religious Freedom Restoration Act could provide some protections, “it’s not going to be a one-sized-fits-all solution to the enormous problems that this executive order creates,” Bursch said.
 
The rule could also cause problems for employees in government or the private sector. A Catholic worker’s statement supporting the Catholic view of marriage as a union of one man or one woman could be considered discriminatory or harassment, he said.
 
“It essentially says to religious employees: ‘You’re not welcome to express your views in public anymore,” said Bursch. He considered this a twofold First Amendment violation, affecting both free speech and free exercise of religion.
 
At the same time, he noted that objectors like women high school athletes might not have a religious objection to competing against men who identify as women. Rather, their objections are sex-based or based on a desire for fair competition.
 
CNA sought comment from the U.S. Conference of Bishops but did not receive a response by deadline. Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, in his role as the bishops’ conference president, issued a prepared statement on Biden’s inauguration.
 
The archbishop said he finds hope and inspiration in Biden’s personal witness of relying on faith in difficult times and commitment to the poor. He stressed the wide variety of issues on which the U.S. bishops advocate in ways that do not “align neatly” with political party platforms. He added: “our new president has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender.”
 
“Our commitments on issues of human sexuality and the family, as with our commitments in every other area,” he said, are “guided by Christ’s great commandment to love and to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable.”
 
Mary Rice Hasson, a fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center, criticized the executive order ahead of its release, focusing on how it equates sex discrimination with discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
 
The text of the order is “based on a lie,” Hasson said, “that ‘gender identity’ enables a male person to ‘be’ a woman.”
 
She contrasted this with Biden’s comments in his inaugural address, in which he emphasized the need for truth and quoted St. Augustine to underline the need for unity in truth.
 
In January 2017, the U.S. bishops had voiced criticism of the Trump administration’s decision to maintain what they said was a “troubling” Obama-era executive order that could demand federal contractors violate their religious beliefs on marriage and gender ideology.
 
Signed by President Barack Obama in 2014, the order prohibited federal government contractors from sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, and forbids gender identity discrimination in the employment of federal employees.
 
That executive order immediately drew criticism for its lack of religious exemptions.
 
A different Biden executive order on “Advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities in the federal government” indicated that “LGBTQ+ Americans” would be included in the underserved categories alongside people of color, Americans with disabilities, religious minorities, and “rural and urban communities facing persistent poverty.”
 
This executive order aims to embed this vision of equity “across federal policymaking and rooting out systemic racism and other barriers to opportunity from federal programs and institutions,” the Biden-Harris Transition Team said.

Secretary of State nominee agrees with ‘genocide’ determination for Uyghurs

Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2021 / 02:45 pm (CNA).- President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State agrees with his predecessor’s declaration that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is committing genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang.

 

“That would be my judgment as well,” said Antony Blinken, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, when asked by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday if he agreed with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s genocide designation.

 

Blinken appeared before members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday for a hearing considering his nomination to Biden’s cabinet. He also said he was “very much in agreement” with the Trump administration’s view of the situation in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

 

On January 19, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he had “determined that the People’s Republic of China is committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, China, targeting Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups.”

 

Pompeo stated, “[t]he People’s Republic of China and the CCP must be held to account.” 

 

On Tuesday, Blinken said that the gravity and scope of the atrocities committed in Xinjiang against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and others has risen to the level of genocide.

 

“The forcing of men, women and children into concentration camps; trying to, in effect, re-educate them to be adherents to the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party, all of that speaks to an effort to commit genocide,” he said. 

 

Xinjiang, a region in China’s northwest nearly three times the size of France, is home to 23 million Turkic people including Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslim minorities. 

 

China has escalated its control over the region in recent decades, citing national security as the reason for its crackdowns on public assemblies and freedom of movement.

 

Beginning in 2017, China constructed a system of around 1,300 detention camps where up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are estimated to have been imprisoned. Detainees have reportedly been subject to forced labor, indoctrination, beatings, and torture.

 

Uyghurs outside the camps are also subject to mass surveillance, including DNA sampling, facial recognition technology, and predictive policing platforms.

 

The largely-Muslim population has also been subject to repression of religious practice, such as men growing beards or women wearing veils; children have reportedly been separated from their families and forced to denounce Islam.

 

In addition, the AP reported in June that many Uyghur women were subject to forced abortions, sterilizations and implantations of IUDs as part of China’s coercive family planning limits of two children per family.

 

In August, two Asian cardinals joined 74 other religious leaders in a joint statement decrying the treatment of the Uyghurs as “one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust.”

 

Pompeo on Jan. 19 said he believes “this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state.”

 

“The governing authorities of the second most economically, militarily, and politically powerful country on earth have made clear that they are engaged in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group, even as they simultaneously assert their country as a global leader and attempt to remold the international system in their image,” he said.

 

If confirmed as secretary of state, Blinken said that he would look to possibly banning imports of products suspected to be made by Uyghurs in forced labor situations, and would also seek to ban exports to China that could be used to repress the Uyghur population and other ethnic minorities.

 

In August, Joe Biden’s campaign referred to the treatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang as “genocide.”

 

“The unspeakable oppression that Uighurs and other ethnic minorities have suffered at the hands of China’s authoritarian government is genocide and Joe Biden stands against it in the strongest terms,” said campaign spokesman Andrew Bates.

Trump admin proposal a last-ditch effort to offer religious groups SBA loans

Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2021 / 02:34 pm (CNA).- A proposal made on the last day of the Trump administration would make religious businesses eligible to receive loans from the Small Business Administration, removing previous restrictions.

The U.S. Small Business Administration published a proposal Jan 19. that would remove five restrictions that “run afoul of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. All five provisions make certain faith-based organizations ineligible to participate in certain SBA business loan and disaster assistance programs because of their religious status,” the proposal’s summary states.

“Because the provisions exclude a class of potential participants based solely on their religious status, the provisions violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. SBA now proposes to remove the provisions to ensure in its business loan and disaster assistance programs the equal treatment for faith-based organizations that the Constitution requires,” the summary adds.

If passed, the proposal would allow religious businesses to qualify for SBA loans, though it is unclear if it would also allow churches and other houses of worship also to be eligible, the Washington Post reported.

The SBA proposal cites two Supreme Court cases as precedent for removing the religious exclusions from SBA loan qualification criteria.


In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer the Supreme Court ruled that a playground resurfacing grant that excluded churches and religious organizations was unconstitutional. The court said the grant violated the Free Exercise Clause, which “`protect[s] religious observers against unequal treatment' and subjects to the strictest scrutiny laws that target the religious for `special disabilities' based on their `religious status.' ”

In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Supreme Court repealed a state court decision to block religious schools from a scholarship program. While the state argued that it had an interest in preventing the religious use of the funds, the Supreme Court ruled that “Status-based discrimination remains status based even if one of its goals or effects is preventing religious organizations from putting aid to religious uses.” The SBA also noted that its proposal also follows the 2017 executive order from President Trump entitled Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty. The order stated that “Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government” and added that the executive branch would enforce such protections. Furthermore, the removal of religious restrictions also follows a decision by the Trump administration to allow religious organizations to apply for the Payment Protection Program, a coronavirus relief program that provided billions of dollars in pandemic relief to businesses and non-profits, including thousands of Catholic parishes, schools, and other religious organizations.

The proposal is likely to spark a heated debate about religious freedom under the Biden administration. While the Free Exercise Clause of First Amendment ensures the free practice of religion, the Establishment Clause prohibits the US Congress establishing a religion by law.

The SBA is collecting public comment on the proposal until Feb. 18. Afterward, the Washington Post reports, the determination of the proposal’s future falls to Biden-appointed administrator Isabel Guzman.

San Francisco archbishop responds to Pelosi: 'No Catholic in good conscience can favor abortion'

San Francisco, Calif., Jan 21, 2021 / 01:20 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of San Francisco on Thursday responded to the Speaker of the House accusing pro-life Trump voters of being sellouts.

 

In a Jan. 18 podcast with former senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that support of pro-life voters for former President Donald Trump was an issue that “gives me great grief as a Catholic.”

 

“I think that Donald Trump is president because of the issue of a woman’s right to choose,” she said of abortion, implying that pro-life voters boosted Trump to victory in 2016. She added that these voters “were willing to sell the whole democracy down the river for that one issue.”

 

On Thursday, Pelosi’s archbishop responded to her comments on abortion and voting.

 

“No Catholic in good conscience can favor abortion,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, Pelosi’s home diocese, in a statement issued on Thursday. “Our land is soaked with the blood of the innocent, and it must stop.”

 

Pelosi has long supported abortion despite her Catholic faith. In 2008, she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” regarding when life begins, “over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition.” She said that her Catholic faith “shouldn’t have an impact on a woman’s right to choose.” 

 

On Thursday, Archbishop Cordileone clarified that "Nancy Pelosi does not speak for the Catholic Church."

 

“And on the question of the equal dignity of human life in the womb, she [Pelosi] also speaks in direct contradiction to a fundamental human right that Catholic teaching has consistently championed for 2,000 years,” Cordileone said.

 

The archbishop added that Pelosi’s use of the phrase “right to choose” in reference to abortion “is a smokescreen for perpetuating an entire industry that profits from one of the most heinous evils imaginable.”

 

In 2010, the previous archbishop of San Francisco—George Niederauer—called Pelosi’s support for abortion “entirely incompatible with Catholic teaching.”

 

Pelosi signaled in August that she intends to bring up spending bills in 2021 that do not include the Hyde Amendment—thus allowing for taxpayer-funded abortions in Medicaid. It is unclear if Democrats would have the votes in both chambers of Congress to ultimately repeal Hyde.

 

Cordileone, in his statement on Thursday, said he would “not presume” why individuals voted for Trump. “There are many issues of very grave moral consequence that Catholics must weigh in good conscience when they vote,” he said.

 

Cordileone also supported Archbishop Jose Gomez—the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference—who issued a statement of prayer and congratulations to new President Joe Biden, and who noted areas of agreement and disagreement between Biden and bishops.

 

Gomez, in his statement upon Biden’s inauguration, reiterated that ending abortion is the “preeminent priority” of the conference due to its threat to families and the sheer number of abortion victims.

 

The language on abortion received opposition from within the conference, including by Cardinal Blasé Cupich of Chicago who issued a scathing statement of criticism of Gomez’s words, CNA reported.

 

Cordileone on Thursday thanked Gomez for restating the conference’s priority and added that just because abortion is a “preeminent” concern does not mean it is the “only” concern of the conference.

 

“In his inaugural speech yesterday, President Biden gave a moving call to unity and healing,” Cordileone said, and added that Pelosi’s accusations against pro-lifers were “not the language of unity and healing. She owes these voters an apology.”

 

“Christians have always understood that the commandment, ‘Thou shall not kill,’ applies to all life, including life in the womb,” Cordileone said. “Pope Francis continues this unbroken teaching.”

How a helicopter crash brought a soldier back to the Catholic faith

Rome Newsroom, Jan 21, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- As a self-proclaimed atheist in his early 20s, Private Dillon Beatson said that the only time he spoke of religion was with ridicule. But when his helicopter crashed during a training mission in the Middle East, he found himself crying out to God.

“It is funny how fast and slow it went at the same time,” Beatson said in an interview with Colm Flynn of EWTN News.

“I was holding on to something and we crashed down on the left, and I got launched into the sand. The helicopter was still moving forward. It was pushing me into the sand. The propeller blades were spinning around. It was incredibly loud and I thought: ‘This is it.’ … It was when I called out to God and said: ‘God, please don’t let me die.’” 

Beatson, who at the time served as a radio operator in the Australian army, said that he was surprised at his spontaneous impulse to pray.

“At the time it confused me ... because I didn’t believe in God. I thought he was a fairytale. It really started me on a soul-searching journey,” he said.

A fellow soldier died in the crash. Beatson, who was unharmed, said that that moment led him to a years-long search for the meaning of life.

“I was baptized Catholic and I went to a Catholic primary school for the first couple of years of schooling, but I wouldn’t say that I was very religious at all. I had very little knowledge about who God was, who Jesus was,” he said.

By the time that he had graduated from high school in Australia, he, like many of the millennial generation, was a “religious none,” or a person who declares that they do not belong to any religious denomination.

He said that he spent many weekends “getting ridiculously drunk” at parties and that the only time that he spoke of religion was when he was making fun of people’s faith or “bashing religious institutions.”

Beatson attributed his decision to return to Mass to his close encounter with death. He enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program and was confirmed in the Catholic Church in August 2019.

“I just went into the Latin Mass -- I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Latin Mass -- and I just fell in love,” Beatson told The Catholic Leader newspaper in Australia. 

“I sort of feel like my childhood was robbed in a way, that I didn’t get to grow up with the love of Christ, and didn’t get to have a lot of the teachings and morals instilled in me from a young age.”

Now that Beatson is a practicing Catholic, he said that he considers the faith to be “a treasure” that he wants to share with others.

“My life is different now because I am not just living for myself anymore. I am trying to -- obviously failing a lot -- but I am trying to live my life for Christ. I am trying to come to know him and to love him more … to allow his love and his light shine through me. And I just feel so at peace,” he told EWTN.

“In today’s culture -- especially young men -- we are fed a lot of lies about what young men should be. And really the best example for a man is our Lord Jesus. It is just such an incredible feeling and an incredible love. His love and his grace really changed my life and it can change your life too.”

Dr. Fauci promises repeal of Mexico City Policy

Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2021 / 11:30 am (CNA).- The Biden administration will repeal the Mexico City Policy in the “coming days,” White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told board members of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday, January 21.

 

“It will be our policy to support women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in the United States, as well as globally,” Fauci told an executive board meeting of the World Health Organization on Thursday. 

 

“To that end, President Biden will be revoking the Mexico City Policy in the coming days, as part of his broader commitment to protect women’s health and advance gender equality at home and around the world,” Fauci said. 

 

Fauci is serving as President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor on COVID-19, in addition to his continued role as director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). He was attending the WHO board meeting on behalf of the Biden-Harris administration. 

 

At Thursday’s meeting, Fauci confirmed that the United States would not be leaving the World Health Organization. In 2020, the Trump administration began the process of withdrawing from the organization. 

 

Pro-life groups have criticized WHO for supporting abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Sept., 2020, WHO officials advocated for countries to continue allowing abortions during the pandemic, in statements on “International Safe Abortion Day.”

 

The “Mexico City Policy,” referred to by its detractors as the “Global Gag Rule,” was first introduced in 1984. It has traditionally barred U.S. family planning assistance from going to foreign NGOs that promote or perform abortions.

 

The Trump administration expanded the policy to apply to billions of dollars in global health assistance, and has sought to apply it to some government contracts.  In addition, the administration cut funding for the Organization of American States (OAS) in 2019 because of its pro-abortion advocacy.

 

Typically, one of the first acts of a newly-sworn-in president is to either repeal or reinstate the Mexico City Policy. Democratic presidents have repealed the policy, while Republican presidents beginning with Reagan have introduced it or reinstated it. 

 

Supporters of the policy have told CNA that it prevents taxpayers from having to support  international groups that promote abortions and abortion ideology in developing countries, even those where abortion is illegal.

 

On Wednesday evening, White House press secretary Jen Psaki would not give details when asked by EWTN News what Biden plans to do with the Mexico City Policy.

 

“Well, I think we’ll have more to say on the Mexico City Policy in the coming days,” Psaki said, before adding that Biden is a “devout Catholic.”

 

The Biden administration is also expected to take a number of other actions rolling back pro-life policies in its first days. Punchbowl News reported on Wednesday that the administration also planned to “disavow” the Geneva Declaration, an international statement of the U.S. and 31 other countries declaring that abortion is not a human right.

 

Fauci added that the United States will “work constructively with partners to strengthen and importantly reform the WHO, to help lead the collective effort to strengthen the international COVID-19 response and address its secondary impacts on people, communities, and health systems around the world.” 

 

“The United States sees technical collaboration at all levels as a fundamental part of our relationship with WHO, one that we value deeply and will look to strengthen going forward,” said Fauci. 

 

Fauci added that “The Biden Administration also intends to be fully engaged in advancing global health, supporting global health security and the Global Health Security Agenda, and building a healthier future for all people.”

U.S. bishops applaud Biden's actions on immigration

Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2021 / 10:20 am (CNA).- The U.S. bishops’ conference applauded President Joe Biden for halting some deportations and preserving the DACA program on his first day in office.

“We applaud President Biden’s restoration of the DACA program, and we also strongly encourage him and the U.S. Congress to immediately enact legislation that provides a path to citizenship for Dreamers,” Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles and Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, D.C., stated on Thursday.

 

Archbishop Gomez is the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB), and Bishop Dorsonville is the chair of the conference’s migration committee.

 

President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, to delay deportations of and allow a legal work permit for eligible undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Around 800,000 people have benefited from the program.

 

The Trump administration in 2017 sought to wind the program down, accepting no new DACA applications, and gave Congress a six-month time frame to enact parts of the program in law. After Congress failed to pass such legislation in six months, the administration moved to end DACA but courts ruled against the administration’s deadline.

 

In June, 2020, the Supreme Court said t the administration’s procedure by which it sought to end the program was unlawful.

 

The court sent the case back to the administration, which announced it would continue not accepting any new DACA applications during a review of the program. The administration also only granted one-year renewals of DACA status for existing recipients.

 

On Thursday, Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Dorsonville called for a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers,” or those eligible for the DACA program.

 

Biden’s transition team has promised he would send an immigration bill to Congress that would, among other acts, offer a path to citizenship for “Dreamers” and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.

 

In addition, Bishop Dorsonville on Thursday applauded other immigration actions by Biden, including a reversal of a 2017 Trump executive order that expanded and intensified immigration enforcement and deportations of undocumented immigrants.

 

In addition, the acting director of the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday declared a 100-day halt to deportations of certain undocumented immigrants.

 

“Wednesday’s actions by the new Administration are important first steps toward ensuring that immigration enforcement in our country is balanced and humane,” Bishop Dorsonville said. “Too many people have experienced harsh and heavy-handed enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border and within the U.S. interior, causing families to be needlessly torn apart.”

 

“Our Catholic faith recognizes the right of nations to control their borders, but we can still uphold the rule of law without denying refuge to the vulnerable, all while recognizing the importance and necessity of family unity,” he said.

 

Among his first actions as president on Wednesday, Biden also took executive action to end the travel ban from certain Muslim-majority and African countries, and halt border wall construction on the U.S.-Mexico border.

 

Catholic Relief Services hailed Biden’s proposed pathway to citizenship for TPS holders, saying that the policy would protect “vulnerable people and families” from countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti.

 

“Based on our presence in Latin America and our Church partners there, we know these countries are not prepared to reintegrate their citizens and are overwhelmed from the consequences of natural disasters, insecurity, and COVID-19,” CRS executive vice president for mission, mobilization and advocacy Bill O’Keefe told CNA.

 

U.S. bishops praise Biden's repeal of travel ban

Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2021 / 08:45 am (CNA).- After President Joe Biden on his first day in office revoked a travel ban from certain Muslim-majority and African countries, leading U.S. bishops praised the move.

 

 “We welcome yesterday’s Proclamation, which will help ensure that those fleeing persecution and seeking refuge or seeking to reunify with family in the United States will not be turned away because of what country they are from or what religion they practice,” stated Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

 

Cardinal Dolan chairs the religious freedom committee of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB), and Bishop Dorsonville chairs the conference migration committee.

 

On Wednesday, President Biden had issued a proclamation revoking President Trump’s executive order from 2017, along with several of Trump’s ensuing actions to restrict travel into the U.S. from several predominantly Muslim and African countries. Biden’s proclamation was among his first executive actions while in office.

 

Biden said that travel bans “are a stain on our national conscience and are inconsistent with our long history of welcoming people of all faiths and no faith at all.”

 

The initial 2017 action by President Trump-- was considered by some to be essentially a “Muslim ban,” a continuation of his promise on the campaign trail to shut down travel into the U.S. by Muslims, purportedly for security reasons.

 

At the time of the initial ban, the USCCB said it “targets Muslims for exclusion, which goes against our country's core principle of neutrality when it comes to people of faith.” 

 

Since the original order, the administration later added other countries to the list that were not Muslim-majority nations, including African countries. The travel ban was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2018.

 

Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Dorsonville said that reversing the travel ban would help refugees and victims of violence.

 

“We look forward to working with this new Administration in accompanying immigrants and refugees and continuing the welcoming tradition, which has helped make the United States the diverse and prosperous nation it is today,” they stated.

 

Other Catholic groups praised President Biden’s proposed actions on immigration on his first day in office.

 

Anna Gallagher, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), tweeted on Wednesday of the “Muslim Ban” that “[i]t’s only fitting that this be among the first Trump policies to go.”

 

“The ‘Document on Human Fraternity’ from @Pontifex and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb calls on us ‘to unite and work together’ and ‘advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters,’” she tweeted.

 

Biden on Wednesday began a series of other executive actions on immigration, including the preservation the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and declaring a halt to border wall construction.

 

In addition, Biden’s transition team promised he would send an immigration bill to Congress that would, among other acts, offer a path to citizenship for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.

 

That policy would protect “vulnerable people and families” from countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti from deportation, said Bill O’Keefe, executive vice president for mission, mobilization and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

 

“Based on our presence in Latin America and our Church partners there, we know these countries are not prepared to reintegrate their citizens and are overwhelmed from the consequences of natural disasters, insecurity, and COVID-19,” O’Keefe told CNA in a statement.

 

 

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