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German archbishop in Auschwitz: Stand up against hubris of the politically powerful 

Krakow, Poland, Aug 14, 2019 / 02:31 pm (CNA).- On the eve of the 80th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland, a German archbishop has called for a stand against hubris and arrogance of those in political power.

Speaking on the occasion of a Mass in the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz/Oświęcim on Aug. 14, Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg recalled the witness of the Polish martyr and saint Fr. Maximilian Kolbe.

"On the anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War, Maximilian Kolbe reminds us to profess that God is the Almighty to whom all must submit for peace and unity in our world today," Archbishop Schick said.

“No person can put themselves above God, and no nation can put itself above another, the German prelate stressed, adding that the most important contribution of Christians to peace and unity among peoples and nations was "to profess the one and only benevolent God, the Father of all creation."

God gives equal dignity and rights to all people, peoples and nations, and imposes the same duties of charity on all, Schick said, adding that St. Maximilian Kolbe had deeply committed himself to the obligation of charity.

The Polish priest resisted the totalitarian terror of Nazi ideology and was incarcerated in Auschwitz concentration camp. In 1941, he gave his life for a fellow prisoner. He was brutally executed after suffering starvation in a hunger bunker.

Today, St. Maximilian Kolbe is a patron saint of Europe, reminding Catholics to stand against war, abuse of power and arrogance on the part of politicians, powerful men and leaders who presume to take God's place, Schick continued.

Archbishop Schick is Chairman of the Contact Group of the German and Polish bishops' conferences. He is taking part in the 10th workshop of the Maximilian Kolbe Foundation, of which he is Chairman of the Board of Directors, on St. Maximilian Kolbe's Day of Remembrance at Oświęcim/Auschwitz. Since last Sunday, 45 participants from twelve European countries have been meeting there to discuss the topic "Dealing with the violent past.”

This article was first published by CNA Deutsch, CNA's German-language sister agency. It has been adapted by CNA.

The Miraculous Medal: St Maximilian Kolbe's weapon for evangelization

Rome, Italy, Aug 14, 2019 / 10:58 am (CNA).- As World War II raged around him in Poland, St. Maximilian Kolbe fought for souls using a printing press and another “weapon” – the Miraculous Medal.

“Even though a person be the worst sort, if only he agrees to wear the medal, give it to him…and then pray for him, and at the proper moment strive to bring him closer to his Immaculate Mother, so that he have recourse to her in all difficulties and temptations,” Kolbe said of the Miraculous Medal.

“This is truly our heavenly weapon,” the saint said, describing the medal as “a bullet with which a faithful soldier hits the enemy, i.e. evil, and thus rescues souls.”

The Miraculous Medal is a sacramental inspired by the Marian apparition to St. Catherine Laboure in Paris in 1830. The Virgin Mary appeared to Laboure as the Immaculate Conception standing on a globe with light streaming from her hands and crushing a serpent under her foot.

“A voice said to me, ‘Have a medal struck after this model. All who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck,” Laboure said.

As a Franciscan seminarian studying in Rome in 1917, Kolbe was moved by the story of the role the Miraculous Medal played in the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne.

Ratisbonne was a French Freemason and an atheist of Jewish descent, who received the grace of conversion while wearing a Miraculous Medal given to him by one of his Catholic friends in Rome. The Virgin Mary appeared to Ratisbonne Jan. 20, 1842 in a side chapel in the Church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte in Rome.

St. Maximilian Kolbe chose to celebrate his first Mass April 29, 1918 in the side chapel in Sant'Andrea delle Fratte, where the Virgin Mary appeared to Ratisbonne.

Ratisbonne went on to be ordained a Jesuit priest, and eventually left the order to move to Jerusalem in 1855 to found a convent for sisters in the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, a congregation founded to “to witness in the Church and in the world that God continues to be faithful in his love for the Jewish people.”

Kolbe went on to give his life in place of a fellow prisoner in Auschwitz, a man who had a wife and children. He died of a carbolic acid injection in the concentration camp Aug. 14, 1941. The Nazi officials cremated Kolbe’s body on the feast of the Assumption of Mary.

Kolbe is known for being an effective evangelist and missionary. Before moving to Japan in 1930, Kolbe made a pilgrimage to the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal on Rue de Bac in Paris.



The Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Paris. Credit: Courtney Grogan/CNA.

St. Pope John Paul II remembered Kolbe’s visit when he prayed in the Paris chapel in 1980:

“I come as a pilgrim, after all those who came to this chapel in 150 years, like all Christians who flock here every day to express their joy, their trust and their supplications. I come as Blessed Maximilian Kolbe: before his missionary journey to Japan, just fifty years ago, he came here to seek your support to propagate what he later called ‘the Militia of the Immaculate’ and undertake his prodigious work of spiritual renewal under your patronage, before giving his life for his brothers,” John Paul II said.

Kolbe formed the Militia Immaculata in 1917 to “lead every individual with Mary to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.” He asked all Militia Immaculata members to wear the Miraculous Medal as a sign of their total consecration to Mary.

“Now in this epoch of the Immaculate Conception the most Blessed Virgin has given mankind the ‘Miraculous Medal’. Its heavenly origin has been proven by countless miracles of healing and particularly of conversion,” Kolbe wrote.

“The Immaculata herself in revealing it promised all who would wear it very many graces; and since conversion and sanctification are divine graces from God, the Miraculous Medal will be one of the best means for attaining these gifts,” he said.

Kolbe also added to St. Catherine’s prayer associated with the sacramental: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.” To this, Kolbe added, “and for all who do not have recourse to you, especially the enemies of the Church and those recommended to you. Amen.”

Editor's note: This story has been corrected, it originally idenified the man for whom St. Maximilian offered his life as Jewish.

Auschwitz Memorial chronicles the sacrifice of St. Maximilian Kolbe

Krakow, Poland, Aug 14, 2019 / 08:46 am (CNA).- On July 29, the Auschwitz Memorial published historical photos chronicling the sacrifice of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who died in that Nazi concentration camp on August 14, 1941.

29 July 1941 | After an escape from #Auschwitz of a Polish prisoner Zygmunt Pilawski SS authorities selected 10 prisoners for starvation death. One of them, Franciszek Gajowniczek, begged for mercy. Father Maximilian #Kolbe sacrificed his life asking SS men to take him instead. pic.twitter.com/fpVznLQyJl

— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 29, 2019 On July 29, 1941, after a Polish prisoner, Zygmunt Pilawski tried to escape, the SS security forces selected 10 prisoners to starve to death, as a lesson for the entire camp.

One of the prisoners chosen to be starved was Franciszek Gajowniczek, who asked for mercy. He mentioned that he had a wife and children. Fr. Kolbe offered to die in his place.

"Fr. Kolbe told the commandant, 'I want to go instead of the man who was selected. He has a wife and family. I am alone. I am a Catholic priest,'" Gajowniczek told the NY Times in 1995.

In a Twitter thread, the Auschwitz Memorial has published the photos of both Gajowniczek and Zygmunt Pilawski, the man whose escape attempt prompted SS punishment.
 

Camp photo of Franciszek Gajowniczek, the man saved by Father Maximilian Kolbe in #Auschwitz. pic.twitter.com/yg8JJkJIG5

— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 29, 2019  

 

Zygmunt Pilawski, after whose escape from #Auschwitz the selection for starvation took place, was later arrested and once again imprisoned in the camp on 25 June 1942. He was shot on 31 July 1942. pic.twitter.com/gPpE90kpVo

— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 29, 2019 The Auschwitz Memorial also published a photo of the starvation cell in which Kolbe died. He is reported to have led other prisoners in prayer as, one by one, they died. Though Kolbe was held without food or water for two weeks, he did not die of starvation. Instead, camp guards killed him with an injection of carbolic acid on Aug. 14, 1941.
 

Cell no. 18 in the basement of Block 11. The starvation cell into which on 29 July 1941 ten prisoners were locked to die. Maximilian Kolbe was among them https://t.co/PtOryHF9cM pic.twitter.com/s6ql73XlxQ

— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 29, 2019
 
He was canonized a saint on Oct. 10, 1982.

Conservative candidate Alejandro Giammattei elected Guatemalan president

Guatemala City, Guatemala, Aug 13, 2019 / 04:18 pm (CNA).- Alejandro Giammattei of the center-right Vamos party was elected president of Guatemala Sunday.

Giammattei, 63, won the Aug. 11 run-off election with 59% of the votes, to the 41% received by Sandra Torres, the candidate of the National Unity of Hope party (UNE) and former first lady.

During his campaign Giammattei pledged he would defend unborn life, and marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

Torres is also opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage, the AFP has reported.

Giammattei ran for president three previous times,  is a doctor, and uses crutches because he has multiple sclerosis.

He became head of the Guatemalan prison system in 2006, and led an operation to regain control of Pavón prison, which had been run by inmates for more than 10 years. During the operation, seven inmates died.

Giammattei was charged over the incident, but was acquitted.

He is supportive of capital punishment.

Important topics during the campaign were reportedly insecurity, unemployment, cost of living, and corruption.

In an interview with ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language sister agency, Juan Godoy, communications director for the The Family Matters Association, said that “the Vamos party, as the president and vice-president elect, have confirmed that they are against abortion, for life from conception, and for marriage between man and woman, always respecting our constitution.”

As for the next government, Godoy believes that pro-life groups must “keep a close eye on the Congress … because that's where the real power lies, the political game, and that's where the pro-life movement can be endangered or strengthened.”

In the congressional election, UNE won 54 of the 160 seats, while Vamos won 16. The remaining 90 seats are divided among 17 parties.

Godoy noted that “from the perspective of the Guatemalan pro-life movement, any government official who defends the values and principles that make a society successful, progress, and be healthy by defending life, the family, and freedom, will have the support of the pro-life organizations. Whoever that may be, whatever the party, whatever its name may be. If this person works with dedication and demonstrates his commitment to these three ideals, he will have the support of a citizenry that is aware, a watchdog, and is committed.”

Finally, with a look to the future, the pro-life leader said that The Family Matters Association will continue working with the government of the day “in the best possible way … always being a go-to platform on the issue of life, family and freedom.”

USCCB Committee Chairman of International Justice and Peace and the CEO of Catholic Relief Service respond to Administration’s call for rescissions of $2-4 billion of funds for State Department and USAID

WASHINGTON- In a letter from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to the Department of State and USAID, the Administration froze between $2-4 billion that Congress approved, and the Administration signed into law for America’s development and diplomacy programs. While OMB has lifted the freeze, this is the first step in a potential rescission of the appropriated but “unobligated funds” not yet been committed to a specific contract or project) for 10 State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development accounts.

The Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace and Archbishop for the Military Services USA, and Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, issued the following statement opposing these cuts:

“Local churches and Catholic Relief Services partner with the U.S. government to reduce poverty, alleviate suffering, and foster peace around the world. Rescinding some of these and other international poverty-reducing funds will limit the United States’ ability to support poor and vulnerable communities, respond to global health challenges, address root causes of forced migration, and advance international religious freedom, global security, and peacekeeping. From Central America to the West Bank and Gaza, U.S. policy decisions that cut foreign aid already increase poverty and create a vacuum for instability.
 
We urge the Administration not to rescind foreign assistance funds. We urge Congress to reject any rescissions that target poverty-reducing and peacebuilding accounts and require the Administration to obligate previously appropriated funds. The conflicts and crises today are dire. U.S. moral and financial leadership is necessary.”  

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archdiocese of Military Services, Catholic Relief Service, Sean Callahan, USAID, funds, State Department,

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Media Contact:
Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

 

Chairs of USCCB’s Committees on Migration and Domestic Justice and Human Development Express Deep Concern Over New Rule on Individuals and Families that Access Public Benefits

WASHINGTON— Today, bishops from two committees at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed their strong opposition to a final rule on public charge put forth by the Department of Homeland Security. The rule, which is expected to be officially published on August 14th and will take effect sixty days after publication, will undoubtedly have a negative consequence for families accessing critical public benefits for which they otherwise qualify. Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice, FL, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, offered the following statement.

“This rule will undermine family unity and lead many lawful immigrants to forgo vital assistance, including enrollment in nutrition, housing, and medical programs. Families already in the U.S. will be faced with deciding whether to access critical assistance programs for which they qualify, knowing that in doing so they could jeopardize their ability to stay here with their loved ones. And, it will reduce the ability of many to reunify with family in the U.S. We have already seen the culture of fear that the anticipation of this rule has created in our communities. Ultimately, we believe that this rule is in tension with the dignity of the person and the common good that all of us are called to support.”

The USCCB also opposed this rule when it was initially proposed by DHS and submitted joint comments with Catholic Charities USA detailing concerns with the rule and urging it be rescinded.

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Keywords: USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Committee on Migration,


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Media Contact:
Mark Priceman
202-541-3064

 

Cardinal Obeso, emeritus Xalapa archbishop, dies at 87

Xalapa, Mexico, Aug 12, 2019 / 02:54 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Sergio Obeso Rivera, the Archbishop Emeritus of Xalapa, died in his home Sunday at the age of 87, after an illness of several weeks.

The cardinal's body can be visited in the Xalapa Cathedral Aug. 12. His funeral Mass will be said Aug. 13 at the Xalapa Cathedral, where his body will be buried.

“Innumerable are the works and the pastoral initiatives which Cardinal Sergio Obeso completed throughout his services in this archdiocese; we are witnesses to his closeness with his faithful, his capacity for dialogue with different actors and his exquisite capacity to converse, as well as his gift of people,” Archbishop Hipólito Reyes Larios of Xalapa said Aug. 11.

“Cardinal Sergio Obeso Rivera lived with great discretion and did not like to talk about his qualities and his achievements. However, all of us are witnesses of his gifts and virtues.”

Archbishop Reyes has asked Aug. 2 for prayers and commending the cardinal's health to God, saying, “he has been deteriorating” for several weeks. He had been hospitalized on several occasions in Veracruz and Xalapa.

Obeso was born in 1931, and entered seminary in 1944. He began studying at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1947, earning a doctorate in theology, and he was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Veracruz-Jalapa in 1954, at the age of 23.

He worked in the seminary of Xalapa, teaching philosophy and serving as a prefect, spiritual director, and rector.

Obeso was appointed Bishop of Papantla in 1971, and Coadjutor Archbishop of Xalapa in 1974.

He succeeded as Archbishop of Xalapa in 1979, remaining there until his 2007 retirement at the age of 75.

Obeso was made a cardinal in 2018, at the age of 86.

He served three terms as president of the Mexican bishops' conference, being elected in 1982, 1985, and 1994.

Archbishop Reyes wrote that Cardinal Obeso “was a person admirable in ever way. We had the privilege of being guided by him, always  listening with much attention to his counsel and his guidance. We recognize him as a cultured man, as a kind, bright person with a human quality recognized by his own and by strangers. He was eloquent in speaking, his teachings manifested the profound solidity of his formation and the clarity of his thinking.”

The archbishop said his predecessor had a closeness to the poor, often visiting “the rural communities and villages of the highlands of the state of Veracruz with a great disposition and pastoral charity.”

“Cardinal Obeso taught us with the testimony of his life that the poor can and should be served without assuming radical positions and without demagogy. One can serve the most unprotected and be witnesses in the world without giving up Christian values or losing membership in Christ. Cardinal Sergio Obeso served the world because he had a great belonging to Christ.”

The Mexican bishops said Aug. 11 that “We recognize his generous dedication to the pilgrim Church in our country, especially the great work of coordination and primary responsibility that he carried out as president of our bishops' conference.”

The prelates recalled Cardinal Obeso's participation “in some significant episodes in our country's history, participating in the peace and reconciliation negotiations for the San Andrés Accords, in our efforts to reestablish relations between the Mexican state and the Holy See by promoting the regulatory law of Article 130 of the Constitution.”

“In other three year periods he was responsible for the Commissions for Pastoral Social Ministry and for the Clergy, and also was a great promoter of the canonization of Saint Rafael Guízar y Valencia,” they added.

“We ask you to commend his soul to God, offering three Masses for his eternal rest,” concludes the statement.

El Presidente del Comité de Migración de la USCCB insta a la rescisión de una nueva norma que socava nuestro sistema de asilo y pone en riesgo a las personas y familias vulnerables

WASHINGTON.- Recientemente, la Administración de Trump emitió una “regla final interina” que casi acabaría con nuestro actual sistema de asilo. Un período de 30 días fue otorgado para enviar comentarios al Gobierno sobre la regla. La medida permitiría a la Administración impedir que la mayoría de las personas que llegan a nuestra frontera sur tengan acceso al asilo en los Estados Unidos. La Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos presentó comentarios el 9 de agosto y calificó la regla de "ilegal, injusta e imprudente".

El Reverendísimo Joe S. Vásquez, Obispo de Austin, y Presidente del Comité de Migración de la USCCB emitió el siguiente comunicado:

“Tenemos serias preocupaciones sobre la regla final interina de la Administración, emitida el 16 de julio de 2019, que limita en gran medida la elegibilidad de asilo en los Estados Unidos en la frontera sur", dijo el Obispo Vásquez. "La regla le daría la espalda a la gran mayoría de los solicitantes de asilo, exigiéndoles que soliciten protección en casi todos los otros países a través de los cuales ello transiten, dejando el acceso al asilo en EE.UU. como una remota posibilidad". No solo creemos que esta regla es ilegal, sino que también pone en peligro la seguridad de las personas y familias vulnerables que huyen de la persecución y amenaza la unidad familiar.

Además, la norma socava la tradición de nuestra nación de ser un líder mundial que provee y es un catalizados para que otros provean protección humanitaria a los necesitados. Recordamos al Departamento de Justicia y al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional que la forma en que respondemos a los solicitantes de asilo que llegan a nuestra frontera es una prueba de nuestro carácter moral e instamos firmemente a la Administración a que rescinda esta regla ".

Favor encontrar copia de los comentarios aquí.

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Palabras clave: USCCB, Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos, Obispo Joe S. Vásquez, Departamento de Justicia, Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, inmigración, asilo

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Contacto de prensa:

Miguel Guilarte

202-541-3200

 

El Presidente del Comité de Migración de la USCCB insta a la rescisión de una nueva norma que socava nuestro sistema de asilo y pone en riesgo a las personas y familias vulnerables

WASHINGTON.- Recientemente, la Administración de Trump emitió una “regla final interina” que casi acabaría con nuestro actual sistema de asilo. Un período de 30 días fue otorgado para enviar comentarios al Gobierno sobre la regla. La medida permitiría a la Administración impedir que la mayoría de las personas que llegan a nuestra frontera sur tengan acceso al asilo en los Estados Unidos. La Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos presentó comentarios el 9 de agosto y calificó la regla de "ilegal, injusta e imprudente".

El Reverendísimo Joe S. Vásquez, Obispo de Austin, y Presidente del Comité de Migración de la USCCB emitió el siguiente comunicado:

“Tenemos serias preocupaciones sobre la regla final interina de la Administración, emitida el 16 de julio de 2019, que limita en gran medida la elegibilidad de asilo en los Estados Unidos en la frontera sur", dijo el Obispo Vásquez. "La regla le daría la espalda a la gran mayoría de los solicitantes de asilo, exigiéndoles que soliciten protección en casi todos los otros países a través de los cuales ello transiten, dejando el acceso al asilo en EE.UU. como una remota posibilidad". No solo creemos que esta regla es ilegal, sino que también pone en peligro la seguridad de las personas y familias vulnerables que huyen de la persecución y amenaza la unidad familiar.

Además, la norma socava la tradición de nuestra nación de ser un líder mundial que provee y es un catalizados para que otros provean protección humanitaria a los necesitados. Recordamos al Departamento de Justicia y al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional que la forma en que respondemos a los solicitantes de asilo que llegan a nuestra frontera es una prueba de nuestro carácter moral e instamos firmemente a la Administración a que rescinda esta regla ".

Favor encontrar copia de los comentarios aquí.

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Palabras clave: USCCB, Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos, Obispo Joe S. Vásquez, Departamento de Justicia, Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, inmigración, asilo

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Contacto de prensa:

Miguel Guilarte

202-541-3200

 

El Presidente del Comité de Migración de la USCCB insta a la rescisión de una nueva norma que socava nuestro sistema de asilo y pone en riesgo a las personas y familias vulnerables

WASHINGTON.- Recientemente, la Administración de Trump emitió una “regla final interina” que casi acabaría con nuestro actual sistema de asilo. Un período de 30 días fue otorgado para enviar comentarios al Gobierno sobre la regla. La medida permitiría a la Administración impedir que la mayoría de las personas que llegan a nuestra frontera sur tengan acceso al asilo en los Estados Unidos. La Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos presentó comentarios el 9 de agosto y calificó la regla de "ilegal, injusta e imprudente".

El Reverendísimo Joe S. Vásquez, Obispo de Austin, y Presidente del Comité de Migración de la USCCB emitió el siguiente comunicado:

“Tenemos serias preocupaciones sobre la regla final interina de la Administración, emitida el 16 de julio de 2019, que limita en gran medida la elegibilidad de asilo en los Estados Unidos en la frontera sur", dijo el Obispo Vásquez. "La regla le daría la espalda a la gran mayoría de los solicitantes de asilo, exigiéndoles que soliciten protección en casi todos los otros países a través de los cuales ello transiten, dejando el acceso al asilo en EE.UU. como una remota posibilidad". No solo creemos que esta regla es ilegal, sino que también pone en peligro la seguridad de las personas y familias vulnerables que huyen de la persecución y amenaza la unidad familiar.

Además, la norma socava la tradición de nuestra nación de ser un líder mundial que provee y es un catalizados para que otros provean protección humanitaria a los necesitados. Recordamos al Departamento de Justicia y al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional que la forma en que respondemos a los solicitantes de asilo que llegan a nuestra frontera es una prueba de nuestro carácter moral e instamos firmemente a la Administración a que rescinda esta regla ".

Favor encontrar copia de los comentarios aquí.

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Palabras clave: USCCB, Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos, Obispo Joe S. Vásquez, Departamento de Justicia, Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, inmigración, asilo

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Contacto de prensa:

Miguel Guilarte

202-541-3200