The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson said he opposes a federal policy where migrants arriving in Tucson are being bused to El Paso and sent to Mexico.
Bishop Edward Weisenburger released a statement Monday opposing the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “remain in Mexico” policy, which were extended to migrants arriving to Tucson on Nov. 22.
The Department of Homeland Security announced in January 2019 it would start using the Migrant Protection Protocols, where asylum seekers looking to enter the U.S. are returned to Mexico while they wait for their immigration proceedings. Tucson wasn’t included in the protocols until last month.
When the department announced migrants arriving to Tucson would be sent to El Paso, the federal government said the policy would not apply to children traveling alone, pregnant women, people who are ill or with disabilities or those who may face violence in Mexico, Weisenburger said.
But he said there is reason to believe the policy is not being implemented properly.
In his statement, Weisenburger called for community support in opposing the policy and letting Southern Arizona’s congressional delegation know about opposition.
The bishop said migrants being forced to wait in Mexico have overwhelmed Mexican border cities, where thousands are having to share few portable toilets, pregnant women are given one water bottle a day and families and children are living in makeshift tents on sidewalks. He said people are also subjected to extortion, violence, kidnapping and rape.
“The Migrant Protection Protocol is a policy that does not provide protection to these most vulnerable people and in fact has placed them in significant danger in cities that cannot adequately assist them,” Weisenburger said.
The Diocese of Tucson, as Catholic Community Services, operates Casa Alitas, a migrant shelter where people are given food, clothes, a medical screening, a bed and help with transportation.