Longtime Southern Arizonan . . . Provides Facts On Border Problems That Newcomers May Misunderstand

June 27, 2018


PHOENIX — “Brothers and sisters, let the friendship begin,” the latest bishop of the Diocese of Tucson said welcomingly at his installation Mass last November, according to a report by Catholic News Service.
Bishop Edward Weisenburger previously served as bishop of Salina, Kans., then succeeded veteran Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas following Kicanas’ retirement from the southern Arizona diocese that extends along the international line with Mexico.
Weisenburger’s proffered friendship appeared to have grown brittle by June, however, when he suggested canonical penalties against practicing Catholics who provide border protection for the United States and have to try to deal sensitively with minors being brought along in the continued massive invasion of illegal immigrants.
Hysterical coverage in anti-Donald Trump media might leave one thinking that U.S. border agents were swooping deep into Mexico to kidnap and thrash children. Nothing could be further from the truth, although such media even raised specters of Nazism on the march, although they’d never tolerate such imagery regarding their own fanatical embrace of the slaughter of massive permissive abortion.
Pews full of U.S. bishops have shown strong reluctance to enforce canon law against left-wing, pro-abortion Catholic politicians who obdurately defy non-negotiable canon law. That might embarrass the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ useful friends in the Democratic Party.
However, Weisenburger seemed to think it was worth floating the idea of severe canonical punishment for border personnel during a Republican administration when he appeared before the U.S. bishops’ June meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
The Tucson-based, liberal Arizona Daily Star headlined a story about the hometown prelate this way: “Tucson bishop: Should Catholics face ‘canonical penalties’ for role in separating immigrant children?”
It meant not merely “immigrant children,” of course, but “undocumented” foreign minors exposed to possibly serious danger or even death along the chaotic border. The illegal aliens who exposed them may or may not be their parents, and they may have been misled or falsely encouraged into thinking that minors should be transported there.
Instead of being grateful that overburdened U.S. law enforcement was trying to bring some sort of protection and security into this chaos, Weisenburger saw the enforcers as violators needing reprimand and “healing” of their serious misdeeds.
Catholics around the nation could only shake their heads over such self-importance after prelates have spent year after year fleeing their duties from properly disciplining pro-abortion radicals.
The Star quoted Weisenburger: “I think the time is there for prophetic statement. I also think even though what I am saying may be risky or dangerous, I think it’s important to point out that canonical penalties are there in place to heal, first and foremost to heal. And therefore for the salvation of these people’s souls, maybe it’s time for us to look at canonical penalties.”
Why is it that Catholics have waited so long often in vain to hear of bishops’ concern for, say, Dems Nancy Pelosi’s or Tim Kaine’s souls’ salvation, or that of Joe Biden’s soul when he performed a scandalous “gay marriage” while serving as vice president?
The Wanderer sought reaction to Weisenburger’s action from a practicing Catholic long familiar with the Tucson Diocese, Ann Howard.
Howard described herself as being part of “a long cross-border family history in the Tucson Diocese, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century, including an uncle who was in one of the first Border Patrol classes in El Paso and in the Tucson Sector” of the Border Patrol.
She expressed concern about not wanting to sound harsh or disrespectful toward bishops, and offered her observations in the long email below in hopes of informing people who may lack background knowledge about harmful situations and conditions.
Everything that follows below are Howard’s own words except, where noted, she included a link to a Washington Post story about exploitation of minors.

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“Bishop Weisenburger is new to the area of southern Arizona. People who have been in the area their whole lives with cross-border families are usually better able to describe and understand the border and its problems than are newcomers.
For decades people have trafficked children into the United States for unimaginable reasons. Family members who go back and forth between the two countries are accustomed to being stopped and asked about the children who are with them. Many just get passports for the children to save time in crossing.
“It is an ugly phenomenon that many just cannot imagine. Some children are sold into sex slavery, others are sold as work slaves, some are sold to adoptive couples.
Now, the influx of children at the border has become an overwhelming problem. To think that all the children coming are really coming with family members who love and cherish these children is truly naive. It is difficult to sort out true families from “trafficking families.”
For Bishop Weisenburger to seemingly assume that the separations of children from adults at the border is always and everywhere an unmitigated evil that needs to be stopped immediately — and that it is so intrinsically evil that canonical sanctions should be imposed on Catholics who participate in the chaos at the border — is, with due respect, imprudent.
In fact, past administrations have used the laws and procedures in use now by the Trump administration. The past administrations have also used different laws and procedures which allowed the children to be dispersed into the country, sometimes with supposed relatives or other care providers.
“Such a policy resulted in the most egregious abuse of many of these children. They have been enslaved by other illegal entrants and citizens and abused in many ways.
One example of the Obama administration’s policies resulting in such enslavement was in Ohio at an egg farm.

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At this point Howard provided a link to a January 28, 2016, Washington Post story headlined, “Obama administration placed children with human traffickers, report says.” The story began:

“The Obama administration failed to protect thousands of Central American children who have flooded across the U.S. border since 2011, leaving them vulnerable to traffickers and to abuses at the hands of government-approved caretakers, a Senate investigation has found.”
It added: “Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) initiated the six-month investigation after several Guatemalan teens were found in a dilapidated trailer park near Marion, Ohio, where they were being held captive by traffickers and forced to work at a local egg farm.”
The Post story later said that one defendant in a case “used associates to file false applications with the government agency tasked with caring for the children, and bring them to Ohio, where he kept them in squalid conditions in a trailer park and forced them to work 12-hour days, at least six days a week, for little pay.”

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Howard then continued her statement to The Wanderer:
There are many, many more examples of such horrible abuse. The current Trump policy at least protects the children from such abuse. Until we can establish an infrastructure and laws and regulations to identify accurate family relationships, at least let us keep the children safe.
In the current situation, the children have schooling and counseling and games and exercise and medical care and leisure. They have beds to sleep in and social interactions with peers. Perfect? Of course not. But the influx of illegal entrants and asylum claimants is so large that no country can handle it in a perfect manner.
There are many people on the front lines who know the history and know the situation better than any of us. Many of those people are Catholics. In their heart of hearts they believe they are doing the best possible thing to protect children from abuse. All the media propaganda does not affect them. And it should not any of us.
For Bishop Weisenburger or Timothy Cardinal Dolan or any other bishop to impose a crisis of conscience on these people is, in my opinion, an abuse of their mission as shepherds of Christ’s people. Perhaps the bishops should take those public statements like those they have issued recently behind closed doors, and obtain lots and lots of input from those with knowledge and who do not have a political agenda.
I personally do not like to criticize the bishop publicly, but he made public statements, so I will extend a public critique of his behaviors.
All effort to fix the issues causing the chaos must be to fix the sending countries. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI both said such, saying it must be the first solution and is the most long-lasting.
I beg the bishops of all the sending countries and of America to work tirelessly to establish policies that allow every child to grow up in the country of their birth, in the love and care of their biological and cultural families. Every child deserves that. The current situation is destroying the families of the sending countries and of American families. It has to stop.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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