Work together to keep government open Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019 -- 12:00 AM

President Donald Trump announced on Friday, Jan. 25, that he would grant a temporary, three-week reopening of the federal government, even without a deal for border wall funding.

He signed a bill to reopen the government until February 15 and promised that federal employees would receive their backpay “very quickly.”

I was happy to hear that the federal government was reopening, but this doesn’t mean we won’t face a shut-down again in the future. We have to do something to get our government back on track permanently.

Bishops speak out

Two Catholic bishops have spoken out recently about the government shut-down and the border wall controversy.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, issued a joint statement January 20 in reaction to a plan announced a day earlier by President Donald Trump, according to a story published by Catholic News Service.

The bishops urged President Trump and Congress to “come together” to reach a bipartisan solution that reopens the government and “recognizes the economic struggle” now facing federal workers and their families and all those helped by federal nutrition and housing programs.

The bishops said they were encouraged by the president’s plan to provide protections for beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, known as DACA, and those covered by Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, but said such protections must be permanent, not temporary, as President Trump has proposed.

Opposed to building wall

Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Vasquez reiterated the strong objection the U.S. bishops and Mexico’s bishops have to construction of a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border, and expressed concern that the president’s latest proposal will make changes “in current law that would make it more difficult for unaccompanied children and asylum seekers to access protection.”

The two bishops said, “Throughout our parishes, there are many DACA youth and TPS holders, who have lived substantial parts of their lives in contributing to this country. We listen and understand the fear and uncertainty they and their families face and the anguish that they are currently experiencing as their existing immigration protections hang in the balance and come to an end.”

They said that “temporary relief will not ease those fears or quell that anxiety,” which is why the Catholic bishops “have long advocated for comprehensive immigration reform, reform that will provide permanent solutions: including border security, protection for vulnerable unaccompanied children and asylum seekers, and a defined path to citizenship to enable our immigrant brothers and sisters to fully contribute to our society.”

Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Vasquez said they looked forward to working with the White House and Congress “to advance legislation that shows compassion, keeps us safe, and protects the vulnerable.”

Work together

President Trump and the Republicans and the Democrats in the House and Senate need to work together to reach an agreement on immigration and border security and keep our government open.

Our leaders must find humane solutions to this crisis. I urge people to contact their senators and congressional representatives to put aside partisan politics and work together to find solutions and keep our government open for good.

Please pray for our leaders, too!