SANTA FE, New Mexico — Archbishop John C. Wester, the leader of New Mexico’s largest diocese said Wednesday he believes comments about immigration attributed to President Donald Trump “reflect bigotry” and that immigrants from poor countries made the U.S. great.
Wester said the United States is prosperous because of people who came from developing countries and that he is bothered by Trump’s “circle the wagons” approach to immigration and diplomacy.
Last week, while meeting with lawmakers about a potential deal on immigration, Trump questioned why the U.S. should allow more people from Africa or Haiti.
Several people who attended the meeting said Trump disparaged those countries in vulgar, racially tinged terms. He also said he would prefer more immigrants come from countries such as Norway.
“Those kind of quotes reflect bigotry, and bigotry is just wrong, period,” Wester said. “We’re great because of the people who came from developing countries in past years, countries that were less fortunate, countries that may not have been able to do much for us.”
Wester spoke on the sidelines of a breakfast sponsored by the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops for state lawmakers at a parish hall in Santa Fe.
The curb outside Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish is a meeting spot where day laborers who are mostly immigrants seek work.
Wester said he believes in the right of any sovereign nation to determine its immigration policies.
“I agree with that right,” he said. “But we cannot forget … we’re blessed in this country and we have to share those blessings.”
Wester’s advocacy for immigrant rights predates his appointment in 2015 as archbishop of Santa Fe by Pope Francis.
He previously criticized the Obama administration for not giving due process to detained migrant children from Central America.