Metro

Cardinal O’Malley criticizes Trump immigration policies, says family separation ‘terrorizes’ children

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley criticized the Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant children from their parents after they cross the border.
Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe/File 2018
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley criticized the Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant children from their parents after they cross the border.

The head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston on Wednesday accused the federal government of pursuing an immigration policy that is “hostile” to vulnerable children and families.

In a written statement, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley criticized the Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant children from their parents after they cross the border.

The United States is “now openly before the world using children as pawns to enforce a hostile immigration policy. This strategy is morally unacceptable and denies the clear danger weighing upon those seeking our assistance,” he said.

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“In the year 2018, the moral challenge of immigration is mounting for the United States,” O’Malley said. “On too many occasions our government has taken a posture and established policy which is in principle and in practice hostile to children and families who are fleeing violence, gangs, and poverty.

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“The policies have included limiting the number of refugees and immigrants we are willing to welcome in our country, ending Temporary Protective Status for families who are here, and refusing to restore DACA protection for those who have been among us for all or most of their lives.

“In the face of today’s global immigration crisis these choices fail to communicate a willingness to address the reality of widespread human suffering, and in many cases imminent danger, with compassion and care.”

O’Malley’s remarks came one day after House Speaker Paul D. Ryan promised to hold high-stakes votes on immigration next week, the New York Times reported.

O’Malley on Wednesday lamented the effects of government immigration policy that he said has “reached a critical moral juncture: by the order of the U.S. government, individuals with children and families with children who are seeking asylum at the southern border of the United States now have their children separated from their parents.

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“The intent of this policy is clear: to discourage those seeking asylum by severing the most sacred human bond of parent and child. Children are now being used as a deterrent against immigrants who are appealing to us for asylum in order to protect themselves and their families. As disturbing as this fact is, the narrative of this development makes clear the misguided moral logic of the policy.”

In a statement that targeted Trump administration policies but made no direct reference to the Republican president, O’Malley said he supports political and legal authorities as a bishop but “cannot be silent when our country’s immigration policy destroys families, traumatizes parents, and terrorizes children. The harmful and unjust policy of separating children from their parents must be ended.”

Maria Cramer of the Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent Aimee Ortiz contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.