Catholics seek to end child migration from Central America

world | Jul 20, 2014 | By Martin Barillas

A declaration published by Catholic bishops of the United States, Mexico, and the Central American republics recognized that the entire region bears responsibility for addressing the causes of the current surge of immigrants towards the United States. Published in Mexico City on July 10, it called for the creation of programs of social and economic development in the countries experiencing out-migration, such as "rehabilitation and reintegration for those who return."
The Joint Declaration of the Bishops of the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras on the crisis of migrant children underlines an earlier such declaration, the "Extraordinary Declaration of Managua", in which the member countries of the Regional Conference on Immigration (Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic), "recognized regional responsibility and are committed: to putting into effect global and articulated measures to ensure the best interests of children and adolescents and family unity; to disseminate accurate information about the 'dangers of the journey' and the fact that 'permits' do not exist for those who come to the United States; to combat organized criminal groups for smuggling and human trafficking; to improve migratory procedures."
With this declaration, the Bishops of the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras said they are in favor of a request by members of the U.S. House of Representatives to declare a "humanitarian crisis" with regards to the problem of migrant children along the US/Mexico border.
The bishops' declaration came as U.S. border officials and communities are dealing with a record number of minors and other illegal immigrants who have crossed into U.S. territory. Between October 2013 and June 2014, more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors arrived at the U.S. border illegally along the Rio Grande Valley (Texas). The Federal government expects that this number will certainly increase. The Catholic Church is working to assist young illegal immigrants such as providing food, shelter, clothing and medical attention. At Sacred Heart Catholic parish in McAllen TX, for instance, 800 volunteers - Catholics, Episcopalians, Baptists and others - are serving some 200 Central American illegal immigrants daily by providing shelter, food and other care. Some of the immigrants from Guatemala are members of indigenous Maya communities and do not speak Spanish, thus complicating the already difficult task of the volunteers and faith groups.



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