December 4, 1981
THE WHITE HOUSE
Washington, D.C., 20500
Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, I wish to express deep concern at the selection of Fort Drum, New York, as the site for a center for detained aliens, especially Haitians and other nationals from tropical or sub-tropical climates.
Exposure to the area's severe winter climate, with unofficial temperature readings as low as minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, is tantamount to inflicting cruel punishment upon persons who have already suffered much. Moreover, there is limited access to the camp by public transportation, and it is remote from cities where the detainees' relatives reside and legal counseling and the services of voluntary agencies are available.
To isolate these strangers to our land, many of them asylum seekers, and treat them inhumanely flies in the face of our nation's traditional practice and image as a haven for the oppressed. I ask you to reconsider this decision which has serious implications for the well-being, if not the very lives, of these people.
With every good wish, I am
Most Rev. John. R. Roach