US bishops welcome Biden’s repeal of travel ban

US bishops welcome Biden’s repeal of travel ban

After President Joe Biden on his first day in office revoked a travel ban from certain Muslim-majority and African countries, leading US 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 DC.

Cardinal Dolan chairs the religious freedom committee of the US 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 US from several predominantly Muslim and African countries. Mr Biden’s proclamation was among his first executive actions while in office.

President 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 US 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 “It’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.

President 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.

Catholic leaders also welcomed President Biden’s announcement that the US will rejoin the Paris climate agreement, with Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services issuing a joint statement of approval, and calling for greater climate action in the future.

“On the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, Pope Francis called for ‘a culture of care, which places human dignity and the common good at the center.’ The environment and human beings everywhere, especially the poor and vulnerable, stand to benefit from the care of our common home. For this reason, we urge the United States to do more to help poorer nations adapt to the changes in climate that cannot be prevented,” the statement reads.