Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle reported on conditions for displaced members of Myanmar's Kachin ethnic minority in a Catholic-run camp near the Myanmar-China border.
The U.S. bishops gathered in St. Louis for their spring general assembly heard presentations on the pope's upcoming encyclical on the environment, the U.S. church's ongoing work in promoting traditional marriage and the need to remain vigilant in protecting children from abuse.
On the first day of their meeting Wednesday, there also were reports on the bishops' efforts to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and their help in rebuilding work in Haiti, which is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake.
Bishop Jaime Soto called the bulk of those crossing the U.S.-Mexico border "asylum-seekers" and said their jailing "is a violation of international law."
The bishops recommended replacing the practice with alternative detention programs that would give back immigrants their dignity and due process.
"Children, many of whom are babies and toddlers, do not belong in jails, nor do their mothers, who've acted only to protect and save the lives of their children."
"As we rejoice tonight, we are also fully aware that the president's action is a temporary fix and that we must continue the hard work of promoting comprehensive reform."
Two bishops sent a letter to President Barack Obama, asking for executive action "to protect undocumented individuals and families as soon as possible, within the limits of your executive authority."
Faith and Justice: The pope has caught the imagination of the world. But most of the bishops' meeting was devoted to mind-numbing housekeeping actions and reports.
Though there were no actions on the U.S. bishops' agenda in Baltimore dealing with immigration, poverty and other public policy issues, the president of their conference said Tuesday he hopes to meet with President Barack Obama and the leaders of the House and Senate soon on several topics.
A Latin America expert for Catholic Relief Services, the head of the bishops' migration committee and the president of a Catholic college in Michigan were among those urging the government toward humanitarian responses to a surge of children and families crossing the U.S. border from Central America.