Much has been made–including by me–of the broad array of religious voices raised on behalf of the immigrant children from Central America who have flooded our Southern border in flight from murderous gangs at home. In particular, the Catholic bishops and high-profile evangelical leaders have been forthright in calling on the government to care for the strangers in our midst.
But Congress went home last week without managing to provide President Obama with any of the funds he requested to deal with the crisis. The reason was plain for anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear. Republicans in both the House and Senate wouldn’t allow any money to be appropriated unless there was also a rollback of the protections afforded the children by the 2008 William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.
Writing to Congress as head of the bishops’ migration committee July 17, Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo opposed any such rollback. So did the Evangelical Immigration Table, in a letter to members of Congress July 22. Yet even after the House passed legislation Friday cracking down on the migrants in ways that the president called “extreme” and “unworkable,” the bishops and the evangelicals did not criticize the GOP.
These are leaders who have not hesitated to let their righteousness roll down like a mighty stream on Obama for a host of sins, real and imagined, against their moral values. But when it comes to their erstwhile GOP allies, the cat’s got their prophetic tongue.
It’s not as if the people in the pews are about to revolt. Last week’s poll from the Public Religious Research Institute showed 75 percent of Catholics and 56 percent of white evangelicals in favor of sheltering and supporting the migrant children versus immediately deporting them.
Maybe the bishops and the evangelical leaders will get their act together and tell it like it is this week. Let us pray.