In this Issue:
- Children at the Border: CA Bishops Call for Compassionate Response
- California Catholics Respond to “Humanitarian Crisis”
- 2013 USCCB Report: Rise in Violence Is Major Reason Children Are Fleeing
- On the Web
Children at the Border: CA Bishops Call for Compassionate Response
The Bishops of the California Catholic Conference have issued a statement expressing solidarity with the women and children fleeing the violence in Central America and are calling on Catholics and others to respond with compassion:
“In recent days, the people of our state have witnessed the arrival of hundreds of displaced people, mostly women and children, to various locations in Southern California. The Bishops of California wish to express our solidarity with these immigrant brothers and sisters who are coming to our state and to offer our prayer that God will deliver them to the safe environment they seek.
“We also recognize our responsibility as a Church of compassion to come to their aid and help provide them with the practical and pastoral support they so need.
“These children and families have journeyed to our country, fleeing violence and destitution in Central America. Sadly, their experience in California has thus far been marked by hostility and near chaos. They are exhausted, afraid and clinging to hope.
“The gravity of this situation transcends politics; it is truly a humanitarian crisis that calls all of us, Catholics and others of good will, to respond with compassion and with urgent action.”
California Catholics Respond to “Humanitarian Crisis”
Some parishes in the Diocese of San Bernardino are serving as temporary way stations for women and children fleeing violence and drug cartels in Central America; Catholic Charities in several dioceses are working to provide assistance and services to asylum seekers; and diocesan staffs are arranging pastoral care for the unaccompanied children being housed at retired military bases.
The large number of women and children arriving at the U.S. border has only recently received national media attention but the situation has been developing for years. (See 2013 USCCB Report – Rise in Violence Is Major Reason Children Are Fleeing.)
Most are “crossing” in Texas and surrendering to authorities. But the influx has forced Federal officials to improvise and they have asked faith-based and other non-profit agencies for assistance.
In their statement, the California Bishops emphasize our “responsibility as a Church of compassion to come to [the] aid [of migrants] and help provide them with the practical and pastoral support they so need.”
St. Joseph’s Parish in Fontana, California, became the first to accept the refugees on Thursday, when 25 mothers and their children began temporary stays at an unused convent. They will remain for no more than 72 hours.
Parishioners, under the guidance of local Catholic Charities personnel, will help the refugees arrange travel to the homes of relatives or others in the United States until an immigration court can decide whether to grant them asylum or not.
Children travelling by themselves, however, are not released pending a hearing. They must appear before an immigration judge and, under a 2008 law, they are also provided with counsel.
Continue reading California Catholics Respond to “Humanitarian Crisis”
2013 USCCB Report: Rise in Violence Is Major Reason Children Are Fleeing
Why are children fleeing their home countries to seek assistance in the United States?
One mother tells her story:
“I know it’s not the best solution, to send her to the U.S., but what else can we do? We have no place to go.” She said when she tried to work from home, cutting hair so she could be with her daughter in the afternoons; the gangs demanded she pay “la renta.” Unable to make the payments, she closed her business and began working in a nearby town, leaving her daughter vulnerable to harassment by the gangs while she was away from home. “It’s an intolerable situation. I know the journey is dangerous, but it’s dangerous here,” she said.
Such desperation is typical of the stories told to a delegation from the Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (MRS/USCCB) which traveled to Southern Mexico and Central America last year to examine and understand the dangers faced by children in the region.
As the situation now unfolds, commentators on all sides are offering different theories about why so many have suddenly taken on the perilous journey. It is estimated that by year’s end, 90,000 unaccompanied minors will have crossed the border.
The fact is, it isn’t sudden. The U.S. Bishops have been deeply concerned about this issue for some time and have continually bolstered awareness of the issue.
The MRS/USCCB delegation reported their findings in a 16-page report released in November last year - Mission to Central America: The Flight of Unaccompanied Children to the United States. The report points out that “[s]ince 2011, the United States has seen an unprecedented increase in the number of unaccompanied migrating children arriving into the country.”
Why is this happening? What has changed in these regions? The report elaborates on some recent shifts in the region.
On the Web
- Same –Sex Unions - “Agree or hate - are these really our only options?” asks Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone in a recent column. “As the marriage debate rages on (as it will continue to do for a long time, regardless of what courts and legislative bodies decide), it would seem that some on this issue would answer in the affirmative,” said the Archbishop. Read Personal Encounter Changes the Debate Over Marriage.
- USCCB Issues Statement on the Hobby Lobby Decision –“We welcome the Supreme Court's decision to recognize that Americans can continue to follow their faith when they run a family business. In this case, justice has prevailed, with the Court respecting the rights of the Green and Hahn families to continue to abide by their faith in how they seek their livelihood, without facing devastating fines. Now is the time to redouble our efforts to build a culture that fully respects religious freedom.” Read the entire statement here.
PUBLICATION NOTE – The California Legislature is in its summer recess during the month of July. During that time, Public Policy Insights is published every other week unless important news develops. Enjoy the summer!