WASHINGTON (June 24, 1997) -- A Federal Court judge's decision to block the removal of Nicaraguans, many of whom had the protection of the United States government, was hailed today by Bishop John S. Cummins, the Chairman of the Bishops' Migration Committee.
"The ruling of Judge King demonstrates the appropriate sensitivity to the individual lives that this class action represents," said Bishop Cummins of Oakland (CA). "We urge the Administration and the U.S. Attorney General to accept this ruling and not to appeal the court's decision to permit justice to take its course for thousands of American children and their families."
The decision by Judge Lawrence King in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida blocks the deportation of Nicaraguans and other Central Americans who fled to the United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s to escape civil war in their homelands. While they were allowed by the U.S. government to enter the country, their immigration status was never fully clarified by the law. As a consequence of this inaction and the changes in immigration law enacted last year, many of these Central Americans faced removal.
"These are individuals who, while living among us, establishing roots in our communities, and building families in our neighborhoods, have been stranded in a legal limbo awaiting action on their claims," said Bishop Cummins. "They fear the effect of recent immigration legislation that would jeopardize their very lives as they faced possible deportation."
Archbishop John C. Favalora of Miami, where many of the affected Central Americans live, said earlier this spring that "we should not change the rules in the middle of the game. Those who have been in the U.S. and have lived here for many years -- raising families and contributing by their sweat and labor to the growth of our nation -- should not be included in laws which were meant to discourage future [illegal] immigration."