Manya Brachear Pashman – Contact Reporter
Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich told priests Tuesday that if federal immigration authorities knock on the doors of their parishes without a warrant, priests should turn them away and call the archdiocese’s lawyers. Catholic school principals have been told to do the same.
“If they do not have a warrant and it is not a situation that someone is in imminent danger, tell them politely they cannot come on the premises,” Cupich wrote in a letter to Chicago priests.
The directive comes a week after the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidelines for enforcing President Donald Trump’s immigration orders that call for hiring thousands of additional enforcement agents and expanding the pool of immigrants who are targeted for removal. The new guidelines also authorize officers to conduct more raids in immigrant communities.
Gail Montenegro, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the Department of Homeland Security, has said agents are still expected to abide by a 2011 directive in which federal agents were told to avoid “sensitive locations” — including hospitals, schools and houses of worship — unless there is an imminent risk.
“DHS is committed to ensuring that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so without fear or hesitation,” she said in a statement last month.
Still, new immigration priorities and expanded enforcement tactics under the new administration have struck fear in many communities, particularly among Latinos, who account for 44 percent of the diocese’s 2.2 million Catholic faithful in Cook and Lake counties.
“With this letter I want to express my support as we stand together in solidarity with many of our parishioners who are deeply troubled by the recent executive orders related to immigration,” Cupich wrote to the priests. “Their trust in you and the Church is prompting them to come to you for support, spiritual guidance and compassion. We need to stand together and clearly make it known that the Archdiocese of Chicago supports the dignity of all persons without regard to immigration status.”