FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida — At the start of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) spring meeting, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo fired back at the Trump administration’s recent decision not to allow women fleeing domestic violence to seek asylum in the United States, as well the policy of separating families at the border.

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In a “Presidential Statement” that received the support of the full body of bishops, DiNardo said “at its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life.”

“This decision negates decades of precedents that have provided protection to women fleeing domestic violence,” he wrote in response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement on Monday that women from Central America and Mexico seeking asylum in the United States would not be eligible.

“We urge courts and policy makers to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to life,” he continued.

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DiNardo also affirmed a formal statement that was issued by the USCCB last week condemning the administration’s highly controversial policy aimed at deterring individuals from crossing the border.

“Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma,” he said. “Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together.”

“While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find ways to ensure that safety,” he concluded. “Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

The USCCB will continue their bi-annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale through Thursday, June 14.