Will conservative Catholics decry Florida’s Sacramento migrant dump?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis throws markers into the audience after signing various bills during a bill signing ceremony at the Coastal Community Church at Lighthouse Point, Tuesday, May 16, 2023, in Lighthouse Point, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

Will conservative Catholics decry Florida's Sacramento migrant dump?

California Politics ,Immigration and the Border

Gustavo Arellano

June 7, 2023

In nine days


, the Los Angeles Dodgers will host Pride Night and honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence with a Community Hero


ward. Conservative Catholic activists are marking off the days like a homophobic Advent calendar.

Theyre the ones who originally pressured the Blue Crew to rescind the honor from the Sisters,

a charity group male drag troupe

whose members dress in ornate habits to ridicule religious zealotry, yet who also do the good work that nuns do. The Dodgers re-invited the Sisters after a public outcry, causing the conservatives to call for a protest of Pride Night and a boycott of the Dodgers.

Made change b/c I just learned that not all the Sisters identify as male and they are a charity group that dresses in drag as nuns and not a troupe./ AJ

The boycott will be about as successful as the San Diego Padres this season. But that hasnt stopped bishops from California to Texas, Wisconsin to Nebraska from lining up to take their swings at the team and the Sisters. Typical of this Boo Crew is Robert Barron, bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester in Minnesota, a former auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and founder of Word on Fire, a multi


dollar ministry that has made him one of the most prominent Catholic voices in the country.

On a Twitter video posted May 25, he slammed the Sisters as an anti-Catholic hate group, ridiculed the Dodgers pathetic apology to them and said anti-Catholicism was the last acceptable prejudice in America. He then made a direct appeal to my Hispanic friends, arguing that they should be especially offended.

This is the religion of your family, Barron said. Of your




, of your


, of your



Meanwhile, Latinos and the

Church church

were used and abused by anti-immigrant forces in California last week and Barron, along with his babbling brother bishops and the boycotters, has yet to say a word.

I’m talking about the

June 2 Friday


off of 16 Venezuelan and Colombian migrants at the headquarters of the Diocese of Sacramento.


Attorney General Atty. Gen.

Rob Bonta said the documents the migrants carried showed that their journey on a charter flight from El Paso to New Mexico, then to Sacramento was arranged by the Florida Division of Emergency Management. That Sunshine State government agency had previously arranged similar trips to Democrat-run cities and states at the behest of


Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose budget last year set aside $12 million for the task.

After days of silence, a spokesperson for the agency characterized the flight, along with a subsequent one

on this past

Monday, as a voluntary relocation.

The spokesperson, Alecia Collins, also said that a contractor “ensured they made it safely to” Catholic Charities, a nationwide nonprofit that helps the poor but which Collins characterized as “used and funded by the federal government.”

DeSantis, who’s running for president, hasnt publicly commented on the matter. But when the Division of Emergency Management transported over 50 migrants to Marthas Vineyard

last in

September, the governor snidely declared, We are not a sanctuary state, and its better [for migrants] to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction.

Thats what makes the wholesale dumping of migrants on the Diocese of Sacramento so vile. Florida is making a mockery of Catholicism as much it’s taking a jab at Newsom, who is a frequent DeSantis critic (and vice versa).

Since the founding of this country, no Christian denomination has centered poor immigrants and refugees the way Catholicism has. The


church knew that its faithful Germans, Irish, Italians, Czechs, Poles, Italians, Latinos


and so many more needed a safe space to maintain their devotions and customs while navigating a new land.

Sanctuary is at the core of Catholic beliefs


because it’s all over the Bible, from the Pentateuch to Psalms, the Gospel to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, where


the Apostle


wrote that Christians “are the temple of the living God” and thus should act as such toward others. This embrace of the poor and meek, however, has long angered non-Catholics, who stereotyped each wave of Catholic migrants as unwashed and ignorant and the


church as an exploitative entity concerned only with itself.

The DeSantis administration’s Sacramento stunt is nothing more than a cruel joke on the


church that takes advantage of Catholic goodwill while cleaning

their its

own hands of any responsibility. And this isn’t the first time a Republican governor has pulled something like this:


ast year, Texas flew eight Venezuelan men to Sacramento with no money and the address of Catholic Charities.

The Book of Proverbs tells believers to not mess with the poor, or “the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.” Tell that to the conservative Catholic activists who are decrying the Dodgers.

These people call Catholics like me apostates for opposing the


church’s doubling down on culture war issues at the expense of social justice. Since the rise of Donald Trump, they have conveniently overlooked the part of the United States Conference

on of

Catholic Bishops website stating that church teachings have consistently reinforced our moral obligation to treat the stranger as we would treat Christ himself.

They roll their eyes at statements like the one Pope Francis issued last month

Maylast month

that Catholics should ensure there will “always be a community ready to welcome, protect, promote and integrate everyone, without distinctions and without excluding anyone.

Conservative Catholic activists instead have doubled down on the right’s Right’s anti-immigrant war, arguing that the people lining up on the southern border to enter the United States arent like Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and thus deserve no refuge. They filled Trump’s


abinet and defended his policies while still attending Mass with a straight face.

Tellingly, the three main architects of Floridas migrant-shipping strategy have ties to the


church: DeSantis is a cradle Catholic;


his chief of staff James Uthmeier teaches religious education at St. Thomas More Co-Cathedral in Tallahassee, and public safety czar Larry Keefe used to be president of a Florida chapter of Catholic Charities.

Meanwhile, Catholics who actually read the Bible have stepped up to help the migrants stranded in Sacramento. Area nonprofits are offering shelter and food, while Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto told the

press media

, We recognize the humble presence of Jesus, and we hear his call to stand by the migrants.

Humble advocacy in times of crisis is what good Catholics do


because Jesus said good works are best done outside the limelight. He didn’t like the Bishop Barrons of the world, describing them in the Gospel of Matthew as standing “on the street corners to be seen by men.”

In fact, Christ had a name for them: