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Jun 19, 2017

Bishop Doyle Condemns SB-4

June 16, 2017

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

As you know all too well, there has been much controversy and fear in the community generated by the "anti­ sanctuary" law (Senate Bill 4) that will take effect September 1, 2017.

As your bishop, I signed a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott on May 17, 2017, along with 200 other Texas religious leaders, condemning the law as "anti-immigrant" and contrary to the biblical principles for which we stand as Christians. The law is contrary to the moral imperative that we love our neighbor, welcome the immigrant, and care for the most vulnerable among us. This law represents an anti-immigrant agenda that is born out of fear and promoted out of a sense of privilege, jeopardizing justice for everyone.

SB-4 is the harshest anti-immigrant bill passed by a state legislature in recent years. The law will force state, local, and campus police to serve as immigration enforcement officers and mandate that they hold immigrants in custody for Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), no matter the equities of the situation. This law takes away the right of local police to set their own public safety priorities and commitments to protect immigrants who are victims or witnesses of crime.

The law will institutionalize racial profiling; and it will encourage discrimination against people of color, separate families, send a message that immigrants are unwelcome, and bring fear to children, families, and entire communities. Texas is the first state to mandate compliance with ICE detainer requests and conscript local police to enforce immigration laws.

I assure you that, despite SB-4, our church will continue to build welcoming communities across Texas. Texans are a hospitable, kind, and welcoming people . We lament this law's attempt to spread fear among us. We will continue to stand with our prophetic voice against SB-4. As our sacred texts remind us, "When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do wrong to that person. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love the stranger as yourself." Leviticus 19:33-34 .

We will continue to explore ways to resist this law as a Christian community. A large number of cities and counties in the state have filed suit, asking the federal court to enjoin and prohibit the enforcement of SB-4. We don't know how the litigation will come out; but our diocese will file an amicus curia brief in the case, advising the judge of our opposition to this law; and I will invite other bishops in Texas to join me.

I have asked the diocesan Commission on Hispanic Ministry to prepare a long-term proactive plan to address this issue and will keep you advised of the progress of that plan.

Let us continue to pray for the immigrants in our community and discern together how the Gospel of Jesus calls us to respond.


Andrew Doyle, IX Bishop of Texas