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NEW YORK – In response to a lawsuit filed by the conservative political advocacy group CatholicVote to access communications between the Biden administration and Catholic humanitarian entities at the southern Texas-Mexico border, Sister Norma Pimentel encouraged the organization to come and see the work at the border for themselves.
“If you do that I’m certain that you will be touched just like I am to reach out and be present and care for the family, the child,” said Pimentel, the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley on March 1. “The kids that I see that were in detention centers crying with their faces full of fear telling me, ‘help me,’ and how can you turn away from that?”
The lawsuit was filed under the Freedom of Information Act. There are two FOIA requests.
The first seeks access to all communication between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Diocese of Brownsville, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley (CCRGV), Pimentel, and the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, which Pimentel also leads.
The second seeks all communications between CBP and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops related to the CCRGV, Pimentel, and the Humanitarian Respite Center.
“American Catholics deserve to know the full extent of our federal government’s role in funding and coordinating with Catholic Church-affiliated agencies at the border, and what role these agencies played in the record surge of illegal immigrants over the past year,” CatholicVote said on its website.
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“We know every person, regardless of their legal status, deserves to be treated with dignity,” the CatholicVote statement from last month continues. “But that’s just it: Our border is in chaos … and Catholic-affiliated agencies are reportedly working directly with the federal government.”
On Tuesday, Pimentel suggested that the lawsuit has nothing to do with herself and others working at the border, but is instead aimed at the migrants that they help.
“Just caring and being human and expressing our humanity in good positive ways, revolutionizing kindness and care and compassion and tenderness, that’s what we’re about 100% and yet there’s people that are choosing to change all of that and make it as if it’s 100% political, which it’s not at all,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel made the comments at a Georgetown University Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life discussion, “The Francis Factor at Nine Years: Synodality and Solidarity, Reform and Resistance.” She also noted that CatholicVote is “misled or misunderstood in whatever it is that they think we are doing,” and again emphasized her hope that “those who feel against what we’re doing should just come and see.”
Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg