The Archbishop of Los Angeles, Mexican-born Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles, has made a powerful homily at an interfaith prayer service calling for a halt to the deportations of undocumented migrants until the immigration system can be fixed.
“We are here tonight because our people are hurting and they feel afraid,” he began. “We are here to listen to their voices because they feel they are being forgotten.”
Speaking Nov. 10 in a mixture of English and Spanish at his Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Gómez said it was “time to build unity and heal communities” and that people’s true identity was not as liberals or conservatives but as “children of God.”
Although he did not specifically name Donald Trump and his pledge to deport millions of migrants while building a wall to keep Mexicans out, Gómez said children since the election are scared. “They think the government is coming to come and deport their parents, any day now.”
“Right now — all across this city, and in cities all across this country — there are children who are going to bed scared,” he said, adding: “There are men and women who can’t sleep because they are trying to figure out what to do next. Trying to figure our what to do when the government comes to take them away from their kids and their loved ones.”
Gómez, a member of Opus Dei, is one of the most outspoken of the bishops on immigration. He has long called for comprehensive immigration reform as a way of dealing with the challenge of more than 11 million undocumented migrants, and the divisions within families that result.
He is also one of ten candidates nominated for either president or vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in elections set for next week when the US prelates gather in Baltimore for their fall assembly.
Part of that reform would include a pathway into citizenship for long-term undocumented migrants who have put down roots in the U.S.
Gomez’s homily did not just highlight the fears of migrants since Trump’s election, but also the mass deportations that took place during President Barack Obama’s administration.
“Our immigration system has been broken for a long time,” he said. “Our leaders could have come together and solved this problem — at any time in the last 15-30 years.”
He added: “More than two million people have been deported in the last eight years. Nobody seems to care. Except that little girl who comes home at night — and she knows her father isn’t there anymore.”
“We are better people than this,” he went on. “We should not accept this is the best we can hope for — in our politics or in ourselves.”
Gomez went on to promise “our brothers and sisters who are undocumented” that he would never abandon them.
“In good times and in bad, we are with you,” he said. “You are family. We are brothers and sisters.”
He ended by leading prayers for the nation’s leaders, including President-elect Trump and his family, asking them to make a “beautiful, humane gesture” by coming together to agree to stop the threat of deportations, “until we can fix our broken immigration system.”