EL PASO, Texas - El Paso's Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz, along with clergy from the Diocese of Ciudad Juárez, led what they called a "Faith Action" at the U.S.-Mexico Border on Thursday afternoon to protest what they called the "devastating consequences of inhumane border policies."
Bishop Seitz crossed the Lerdo International Bridge (Stanton Street Bridge) on foot to accompany and pray with a handful of migrants returned from El Paso to Ciudad Juárez as part of the "Remain in Mexico" program.
The Bishop asked Customs and Border Protection officials to allow the immigrants to remain in the U.S. while they go thru the process of seeking asylum.
After lengthy discussions with immigration authorities and attorneys, the bishop was allowed to cross with the migrants back into the U.S.
The diocese issued a statement outlining the reason for the protest. It cited "actions taken to criminalize migration at the U.S.-Mexico border, including the expansion of the "Remain in Mexico" policy, the deployment of security forces of both countries to the border, the ongoing deaths of migrant families in the Rio Grande and grave conditions in migrant processing centers,"
"As part of the recently expanded "Remain in Mexico" program, hundreds of migrants are returned daily to Ciudad Juárez from El Paso, including families, women and children. These migrants often experience distressing conditions in immigrant detention for several days before being returned, where there is a critical lack of access to shelter, food, legal aid and basic services. Thousands of migrants have already been returned to Ciudad Juárez as a result of "Remain in Mexico," said the diocese statement.
Federal officials did not comment publicly on the situation.