February 2, 2017
The Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) is an association of scholars dedicated to promoting research and critical theological reflection within the context of the U.S. Hispanic experience. Our work puts us directly in contact with the people who come to the United States in search of better opportunities and/or escaping persecution, war, environmental catastrophe, or famine. The experiences and perspectives of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean are at the heart of our work. This also makes us particularly attuned to their plight for better treatment, their quest for asylum via our shores and national borders, and their yearning to contribute to the common good of this new place they call home. As Christians, however, our very faith and sacred texts privilege care for immigrants and refugees as a sign of faithfulness and respect for the inherent dignity of every human life (for instance, see Lev. 19:10 or Matt. 25:35-40).
For these reasons, the ACHTUS Board of Directors expresses its ongoing solidarity with immigrants and refugees. In turn, solidarity demands that we speak clearly against the two Executive Orders signed by President Trump on January 25 and January 27, 2017, targeting immigration to the U.S. in many of its forms. The Executive Orders on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, and on Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States run counter to the values of our faith, and negatively impact some of the most vulnerable members of society.
Our ongoing scholarly reflection highlights the gifts that immigrants and refugees bring to this nation, in the form of strong community values, admirable work ethic, deep spiritual roots and practices, rich cultural heritage, and unceasing resilience in the face of adversity and challenges. We are also aware that sometimes immigrants’ experiences on their journeys to the U.S. and once on U.S. soil can be fraught with severe physical, mental, and spiritual challenges, and often violence. Among our membership are advocates and practitioners who seek to improve the lives of immigrants and refugees while on their journeys toward greater human dignity.
Embracing the inalienable human dignity of every person, we support immigrants and refugees regardless of their citizenship status, and seek to contribute to their well being and full participation in society and the economy. Pope Francis, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and other Catholic bodies and authorities have strongly denounced the way these two Executive Orders on immigration negatively impact the integrity of families and entire communities by increasing the fear of deportation and separation of families, increasing detention, keeping persons who have travelled abroad from returning to their jobs and their loved ones, hindering support of innocent refugees fleeing violence, preventing many students from fulfilling their goals of a higher education, and the targeting of immigrants through the publication of a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants (regardless of legal status or conviction in a court of law). In addition, the proposal to build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border irresponsibly allocates precious financial and human resources in a venture that has proven to bear no impact on border security.
The ACHTUS Board of Directors will continue to put the journeys and welfare of immigrants and refugees at the core of the work we do as an Academy of scholars and as Christians. In solidarity with our migrant family globally, we categorically oppose policies that threaten the human dignity of any group.