Sheila Gilbert, National President of Vincent de Paul Society, appeals on behalf of the Migrant Children Humanitarian Crisis at the Border
On the US/Mexican border, a humanitarian crisis involving tens of thousands of migrant children continues to evolve and calls for a hallmark Vincentian response of charity and Christian justice.
The U.S. Border Patrol and social service agencies in the border states have been overwhelmed by the challenge of caring for this tidal wave of migrant children. More than 50,000 migrant children have been picked up by the Border Patrol since last fall, and the influx shows no sign of abating. Government estimates project this number will rise to 90,000 arrivals for the Fiscal Year 2014 ending in September, an amount about 10 times higher than the average arrivals between fiscal years 2004 and 2011. For Fiscal Year 2015, the Federal Government projects the number may rise to 130,000. This is truly a refugee crisis on our own border.
News media of all kinds have been describing the difficult conditions in which these children are being housed, the daunting challenges of providing proper physical and emotional care, and the limited options for compassionate, reasonable longer-term living arrangements. El Paso Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz offered the Catholic view of the situation in his June 25, 2014 testimony before the US House Judiciary Committee, which I recommend for your reading. It analyzes the causes, relays the sad stories of three migrant children as examples of the problems, discusses Catholic social teaching about immigration, and recommends a series of responses that the Federal Government, social service agencies, and faith based organizations should consider taking.
As Vincentians called to provide charity and seek justice for the poor and vulnerable, and surely these migrant children – some as young as five years old – are in a heightened state of extreme vulnerability, we can respond in a faith-filled way by contacting our U.S. House Representative to urge him or her to do two things:
- Support special, immediate governmental action in the form of supplemental funding and the re-deployment of appropriate governmental resources so that the needs of the children can be met. Many faith-based organizations, including many Vincentian conferences along the border, are already making super-human efforts to help.
- Pass comprehensive immigration reform, and address it now, not after the November elections. The humanitarian crisis involving the migrant children is more than ample evidence of the need for reform. The U.S. Senate has already passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but because the US House has steadfastly refused to even discuss it, we focus this Action Alert on House members.
Click on the Take Action to send a letter to your Congressional House Representative
Your prayerful consideration and follow-up to this Action Alert is most appreciated.
St. Vincent dePaul Society USA