Dumbfounded by their new unwelcomed fame, Donna Markham, O.P, the president and C.E.O. of Catholic Charities USA, has to live with hecklers while fighting a lawsuit against the organization.
The unwanted attention – furious phone calls and angry emails – followed quickly after a press release and news reports about a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the political action groups Judicial Watch and CatholicVote.
According to America Magazine, the suit demands records of communication between the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and of Health and Human Services “with Catholic organizations near the Texas border that were aiding illegal immigrants.”
Fox News and other media have been spinning the narrative that C.C.U.S.A. and other faith-based humanitarian groups encourage migration to the United States by providing aid at the border.
Noram Pimentel, M.J., executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in Brownsville, Tex, has also become a primary focus of the ire of anti-migrant forces.
“It is outrageous to think that our work is driving the immigration numbers,” Sister Pimentel said in an email to America Magazine . “Do you really think that people are uprooting themselves, putting themselves in danger as they undertake a difficult journey just so that they can come to our respite center to take a bath and have a meal or sleep on a mat?
“They are leaving dire circumstances back in their home countries,” she said, “risking everything to come here with the hope that they can find a safe place to raise their families. Government policy determines whether they enter or not.”
Sister Markham backed Pimental and explained how Catholic Charities “enter into the situation until an individual or family has been processed” through the Department of Homeland Security.
Sister Markham then went on to explain the reality of the U.S immigration system.
“I think we have to acknowledge that our U.S. immigration system is really broken, and I think that this situation at the border is, quite frankly, very, very disturbing, and we need to fix it,” she said. “I wish that instead of taking shots at the people that have been affected by it, that we would try to direct our energies toward fixing it.
“No administration has been able to really accomplish that to date…. All of us are trying to do the best we can within a broken system.”