The Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich, has issued a strong statement of support for migrants and refugees who had been bussed to his city by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, with no provision made for their transfer or reception. In a rare move, Cupich criticised Abbott by name for his handling of the situation.
“Wednesday night, Chicago received two busloads of migrants, including asylum seekers, sent from Texas on buses chartered by Governor Gregory Abbott. For weeks, the Texas governor has been sending migrant women, men, and children – including infants – to Washington DC, and New York City, reportedly in protest of President Joseph Biden’s immigration policies,” Cupich said.
“Treating children of God as political pawns is unbecoming of any elected official, especially when it involves marginalised, suffering people. The Archdiocese of Chicago stands with local municipal and religious leaders who have pledged to support these new arrivals seeking better, safer lives.”
“While the burden of supporting migrants has undeniably fallen disproportionately on border states, the issue would be better addressed by a strategy of national cooperation,” Cupich added.
Governor Abbott began transporting migrants by chartered buses after the Biden administration ended the “Remain in Mexico” policy instituted by former President Donald Trump. The policy refused entry to the US for migrants who had applied for refugee status while their case was being heard.
Previous administrations of both political parties had always allowed those claiming refugee status into the country pending the adjudication of their application.
Abbott is reportedly considering a bid for the Republican nomination for president. Taking his cues from Trump, Abbott has taken an increasingly hard-line anti-immigrant position in recent years.
Last month, in New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan met with some of the refugees being transported to that city.
“These just aren’t cases, these just aren’t problems, these just aren’t statistics, these are not just refugees and asylum seekers in the plural,” Dolan told reporters who had come to Catholic Charities’ offices to report on the meeting. “These are people with names, and with dads and moms.”
Dolan continued: “They’ve just been through turmoil. Some of them, for months, have been walking from Colombia and Venezuela.”