Bishop Olson, joining other Texas bishops, calls for migrants to be treated with dignity
FORT WORTH – Bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth joined his 20 brother bishops in Texas on July 19 to call for better treatment of migrants after reports of inhumane actions on the border.
“Recent media reports present a disturbing account of horrific tragedies occurring along the Rio Grande on the Texas/Mexico border,” the bishops stated in a statement released through the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops. “These reports stir our hearts again for the plight of our sisters and brothers who are seeking a better life. These mothers, fathers, children, and others are doing what anyone would do to find a better life. They have moved to secure honest work and a safe community. The fact that they were born in a place which could not provide these basic human rights does not give anyone the right to treat them inhumanely.”
According to OSV news, Catholic migrant advocates condemned the findings of a report alleging inhumane treatment of migrants seeking to cross the border into Texas, including an allegation that the state directed its personnel to withhold water from migrants despite extreme heat.
The bishops called for comprehensive reform of the immigration system, which they have advocated for multiple times over the years.
“For decades, the United States’ migration policies have failed to address sufficiently the root causes of migration,” they stated. “They have failed to uphold our country’s principle to welcome all who seek a life free of tyranny.”
They continued, “We have a responsibility, as faithful citizens, to work with our government officials to ensure the dignity of all, an ideal enshrined on the Statue of Liberty: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’”
Bishop Olson is a long-time advocate for the humane treatment of migrants. In a November 2, 2022 column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bishop Olson called for “migrants [to] have a right to claim refugee status without incarceration and to have their claims fully considered and processed by a competent governmental authority in an amount of time that is reasonable, as measured by the urgency of the situation and the importance of respect for human dignity.”
The consequence of going against the American value of assisting those who seek aid as well as ignoring the humanitarian crisis at our border "jeopardizes our capacity to assist and to comfort migrants, refugees, and the residential and native poor who are already here among us,” he wrote. “Justice and compassion are owed to people on both sides of the border.”
In light of these events, the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops asks the faithful and “all people of goodwill to join us in this work, and to join us in praying for our brothers and sisters experiencing the harsh realities of this journey, and for all who encounter them."
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North Texas Catholic staff contributed to this OSV News report.