Pope Francis joined U.S. Catholic Bishops in condemning the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement policy in an interview published Wednesday.
Speaking to Reuters Sunday night, Francis said he agreed with the Bishops who said in a statement this week that separating children from parents awaiting prosecution for illegally crossing the border is “immoral” and “contrary to our Catholic values.”
“I am on the side of the bishops’ conference,” Francis told Reuters. “It’s not easy, but populism is not the solution.”
Francis, who has previously criticized the Trump administration over its environmental policy, said demagogic populists the world over were “creating psychosis” with respect to immigration policy, even as aging Western societies are facing “a great demographic winter” due to the lack of a young labor force.
The Trump administration has been harshly criticized for its embrace of a “zero tolerance” approach to immigration enforcement, which it has defended vigorously as the fulfillment of its obligation to enforce the law.
Homeland Security Secretary Kierstkjen Nielsen called on Congress Monday to provide a legislative fix that would end family separations.
“We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does, for doing the job that the American people expect us to do,” Nielsen said during her Monday address to National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans. “Illegal actions have and must have consequences. No more free passes, no more get-out-of-jail-free cards.”
Her comments echoed those of President Trump, who has repeatedly blamed Congressional Democrats for their inaction on immigration policy.
Democratic leadership has rejected the notion that legislative action is required, arguing instead that Trump should unilaterally order DHS to return to the Obama administration policy of releasing illegal immigrants into the U.S. with their children while they await trial.
A group of prominent Senate Republicans have also criticized the policy and Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) introduced legislation this week that would establish family detention centers where children could remain with their parents while awaiting trial.
NOW WATCH: ‘Pope Criticizes Trump Immigration Policies’