LCUSA has issued a statement – Children Migrating Alone: The Catholic Church’s Response The statement includes suggestions about what you can do.
The Ladies of Charity USA, along with the entire Church, is very concerned about unaccompanied minors who are at the southern US border in record numbers. LCUSA is urging its members to make their voices heard with other members of the Vincentian family.
There is a link from the Ladies of Charity website for signing up with Capwiz, the service through which you can easily send an email to your elected representatives in Washington and espouse the values of the Catholic Church and the Vincentian Family.
The LCUSA statement with four additional ways you can help:
Children Migrating Alone: The Catholic Church’s Response
As you are aware, there is a growing crisis at the US southern borders. Thousands of migrants are trying to gain access to the United States, many of them are children, unaccompanied by adults or legal guardians. Ninety thousand unaccompanied minors are expected in FY 2014. (Compare with 14,000 in FY 2012; 24,000 in FY2013) The Catholic Church has been asked to assist the Department of Homeland Security to provide safe shelter as these “new” migrants are processed through the immigration courts.
On June 20, 2014 LCUSA and other organizations were asked to participate in a webinar to learn how we might assist with this crisis. The experts who provided information were:
- Sarah Bronstein, Senior Attorney, CLINIC
- Richard Jones, Deputy Regional Director for Global Solidarity and Justice in L. America and the Caribbean, Catholic Relief Services
- Kim Burgo, Senior Director Disaster Response Operations, Catholic Charities USA
- Kristyn Peck, Associate Director of Children’s Services, Migration and Refugee Services, USCCB
- Martin Gauto, Field Support Coordinator, CLINIC
- Ashley Feasley, Immigration Policy Advisor, Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs, USCCB
- Allison Posner, Director of Advocacy, CLINIC
There are many ways that we can help:
- The scope and complexity of the situation calls for our first response to be prayer. The children and families, as well as workers—border patrol, social workers, lawyers and healthcare professionals are working very hard to provide compassionate care and just solutions. They need our prayerful support.
- Catholic Charities USA has mobilized their disaster deployment system. They are seeking caseworkers, LCSWs, immigration lawyers and medical professionals to assist in current detention facilities—OK, CA, TX and VA. A two week deployment is the minimum and there is financial support. They are also seeking wrap around care, such as spiritual and emotional care (prison ministry) and will be looking to meet humanitarian needs in the future. Individuals and LOC Associations can contact Catholic Charities USA or local Catholic Charities Agencies.
- 90% of the children and families arriving at the border are released to families/sponsors while awaiting the immigration processing. These cases can take a long time. Even if you are not in the South, you may be able to help families through local organizations or directly. According to USCCB these families are in New York, New Jersey, Northern California, Los Angeles, Houston and more states are added every day. Contact your diocesan refugee services, Catholic Charities or CLINIC affiliate to find out how you can help.
- You can become informed about why these children are desperately trying to get into the United States. According to USCCB Migration and Refugee Services which has been involved in this issue for many years, the children and parents at the border are fleeing dangerous conditions in their homelands (Primarily, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras) due to gang violence and poverty. The failure of governments to provide security is causing daily life for children to be dangerous and traumatic. These children are in need of protection and our faith teaches us that we have an obligation to protect our most vulnerable neighbors. The solutions will involve not only our prayer and works of mercy, but advocacy to insure that US immigration laws and foreign governments protect these children and safely return them to their homelands.
As you become involved, kindly share your experience so we can encourage and educate each other. “There is no act of charity that is not accompanied by justice or that permits us to do more than we reasonably can.” St. Vincent de Paul.