The Mexican bishops’ conference criticised US President Donald Trump’s plan to deploy National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border and issued a strong defence of migrants, saying the Catholic Church could not stand by “in the face of suffering by our brother migrants as they seek better conditions”.
The letter, addressed to people in Mexico, the US and the presidents of both countries, echoed the sentiments of US border bishops by saying the frontier between the two countries “is not a war zone”, but rather an area “called to be an example of social connection and joint responsibility”.
“The only future possible for our region is the future built with bridges of trust and shared development, not with walls of indignity and violence,” said the bishops of 16 northern Mexican dioceses and the conference’s six-member presidential council.
“There is only a future in the promotion and defence of the equal dignity and the equal liberty between human beings.”
The Mexican bishops’ statement ‘For the Dignity of Migrants’ followed Trump’s April 4 announcement to deploy troops to the border to thwart the entry of unauthorised migrants.
It followed a series of tweets from Trump criticising Mexico for not stopping a caravan of Central American migrants from moving northward toward the US-Mexico border.
The caravan stalled in southern Oaxaca State, some 260 miles from the Guatemala border, and its organisers and Mexican immigration officials have provided the participants – including many women and children – with documents allowing them 20 days to leave the country or 30 days to regularise their immigration status.
Many of the more than 1,000 migrants participating in the annual Stations of the Cross Caravan, which travels through Mexico every Easter, spoke of fleeing gang violence in El Salvador and Honduras. Organisers say many more Hondurans than usual participated this year due to political repression in the country after a contentious election last November, which was marred by accusations of fraud and a violent crackdown on the opposition.
The number of Central Americans seeking asylum worldwide has surged by 990% between 2011 and 2017, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.