As members of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Viatorian Community joins with other Catholic advocates in joining the #FreetheFamilies Campaign, that calls for immediate, and comprehensive, conclusive action.

● We demand the immediate release of all children and their associated family members detained at the three detention centers named in the ruling.

● We demand that the administration stop using children as bargaining chips. Parentsmust never be forced to make a choice between their children’s health and family unity. As Pope Francis has said so clearly, “Migrants are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity.”

● We call for an end to the fundamental injustice of deporting and detaining children and families seeking to exercise their right to seek asylum and protection in the United States.

Children and parents currently detained are already experiencing untenable living conditions and grave medical issues, exacerbated by the traumatization of being treated like criminals. Couple that with the positive COVID-19 cases among the families and the facility employees and the situation is not just dire, it is deadly.

Similar rulings by to the one made last week by U.S. District Court Judge Dolly M. Gee — to release children from family detention centers by July 17 — have already been made during the pandemic and yet the children have not been released.

We are concerned that ICE and collaborating agencies may seek to comply with the judge’s July 17th deadline by recreating a family separation policy similar to those deployed in the past. This is unacceptable.

Very Rev. Michael K. Barth, S.T., General Custodian, Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity/Trinity Missions and Chair of the Justice and Peace Committee of CMSM, spoke directly to the issue at hand, saying:

“Members of many of the men’s religious institutes that belong to the Conference of Major Superiors of Men work alongside and accompany people on the move through our parishes and apostolic works, our ministries and missions. This includes asylum seekers such as those being held in the family detention centers in Pennsylvania and Texas. We call for release of these children and parents. Parents must not be asked to choose between the release of their child from a physically and emotionally harmful setting and their ability to be united with their children.”