Bishops: Surge in unaccompanied child migrants a 'crisis'

U.S. Mexico border crossing at San Ysidro. Credit: Josh Denmark/U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CC BY-SA 2.0).

The migration of unaccompanied children into the U.S. is a “humanitarian crisis” that demands a “comprehensive response” from the government, said the head of the U.S. bishops’ immigration committee.

“These children are extremely vulnerable to human traffickers and unscrupulous smugglers and must be protected,” said Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration.

“Young lives are at stake,” he emphasized.

About 60,000 children from Mexico and Latin America are expected to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014, CBS News reports. U.S. government statistics indicate that over 47,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the border in the 2014 fiscal year, a 90 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

Bishop Elizondo said in a June 4 statement that child migration is “a very complicated problem” whose roots must be addressed both by the U.S. government and by governments in the region.

He said increasing violence from gangs and organized crime in the young migrants’ home countries must be examined.

“This is an issue which should not become politicized or give cause for negative rhetoric,” the bishop said.

Momentum behind immigration reform increased last year as a bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators worked together to introduce legislation aimed at both providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and securing the U.S. border. In June 2013, the Senate approved the bill in a bipartisan 68-32 vote. However, it stalled in the House of Representatives amid sharp divisions within Republican lawmakers.

The U.S. bishops’ conference has laid out several goals for comprehensive immigration reform, including an “earned legalization program” with an “eventual path to citizenship” for those who pass background checks and pay a fine, along with “targeted, proportional, and humane” enforcement measures.

The conference has also called for a program to help low-skilled migrant workers to enter and work in the U.S. legally, as well as the restoration of due process protections for immigrants, an emphasis on family unification, and policy changes to address the deeper causes of immigration.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, reiterated the call for immigration reform days before the bishops’ spring assembly begins in New Orleans.

“As pastors, we see the human consequences of this broken system each day in our parishes and social service programs, as families are separated, migrant workers are exploited, and our fellow human beings risk everything to find a better life for themselves and the ones they love,” he said June 5.

“Our nation should no longer tolerate an unjust system.”

Archbishop Kurtz quoted Pope Francis’ words that migrants “do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.”

He pledged support for Congress in reforming immigration law “in a manner that properly balances the protection of human rights with the rule of law.”
 


Voices

Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”

Events

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February 13, 2016

  • Saturday, February 13

    World Day of the Sick Mass, Mass and Anointing of the Sick, 12:30 p.m., Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,  555 W Temple St, Los Angeles. Archbishop Gomez presiding with other bishops and priests. Special section designated for those in wheelchairs with volunteers available to help. Limited parking available for $8. Carpooling is encouraged. For more info: Chuck Huebner at cjhuebner @gmail.com or Jim LoCoco at flavialococ0@msn.com.

     

     

    Bosco Tech’s Yurak Memorial Run & Kids’ Fun Run, Check in begins at 8 a.m., Memorial Run at 9 a.m., Fun Run at 10 a.m., Bosco Tech, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead. Race registration is $35 per person. For school groups of 10 or more, the cost is $30. To register online, go to www.boscotech.edu/events or www.yurak.eventbrite.com; same-day registration available at check-in table. Included: racing fees, finisher medal, goodie bag and BBQ lunch. Plaques will be awarded to the top five male and female runners and to the fastest runner under 18.All proceeds to benefit Bosco Tech’s Yurak Athletic Center (YAC). 

     

    Cabrini Literary Guild “Sweetheart Bingo” Meeting, Sat., Feb.13 at Oakmont Country Club, 3100 Country Club Drive, Glendale. Meeting starts at 11 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. ($30/person), and bingo social at 1 p.m. Bingo cards are $5 each, or $20 for five cards. For reservations, call (818) 790-3485.

     

    Footprints: Making Tracks for Neighbors in Need, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m., Bishop Amat High School track, 14301 Fairgrove Ave., La Puente. Catholic Charities San Gabriel Region will present this annual walk/run fundraiser to increase awareness about poverty, hunger and homelessness in the San Gabriel Region. Proceeds benefit those lacking basic needs, such as food, clothing, transportation and shelter. This is a come anytime, leave anytime event, with the first lap around the track to be led by Bishop David O'Connell. For more information, visit lentenfootprints.yolasite.com or contact Mary Romero at (213) 251-3582 or mromero@ccharities.org.

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