Pope Francis calls for Catholic Church to defend rights of immigrants
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Pope Francis in a visit to Colombia this weekend emphasized the Catholic Church’s role in helping immigrants and human trafficking victims, comments that come amid the closely watched U.S. debate on immigration.

Francis visited the Church of Saint Peter Claver in Cartagena, where he said Claver serves as an example of how the church should “promote the dignity of all our brothers and sisters, particularly the poor and the excluded of society, those who are abandoned, immigrants and those who suffer violence and human trafficking,” according to The Associated Press.

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Claver, a Jesuit priest who spent years working in Cartagena, is known for his human rights advocacy during the 17th century. 

“Here in Colombia and in the world, millions of people are still being sold as slaves; they either beg for some expressions of humanity, moments of tenderness, or they flee by sea or land because they have lost everything, primarily their dignity and their rights,” Francis said, according to AP.

Francis has previously appeared to criticize President Trump’s calls for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, calling on people in February to build bridges rather than walls. 

Prior to Trump’s May trip to the Vatican, Francis said he would not try to alter Trump’s position on immigration and the environment, AP reported.

His comments also come less than two weeks after Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsIntel leaders: Collusion still open part of investigation Republicans jockey for position on immigration Biden to Alabama: No more extremist senators MORE announced that Trump had decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months.

Lawmakers have since promised to pass legislation that would extend the protections for undocumented minors who were brought to the U.S. as children.