A November 2013 report from the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Migration alerted us to the ongoing increase in migration of unaccompanied children across the border. More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border since the beginning of the year.
The report found a “perfect storm” of reasons leading to this phenomenon, including an absence of economic opportunities, a lack of access to education, and a desire to reunify with family in the United States. One cause has played a decisive role in recent years: extreme violence in the countries of origin and a corresponding breakdown of the rule of law. This violence has resulted in part because of the drug trade driven by users in the United States.
We appreciate government officials for responding as best they can to this crisis and ask them to make sure that legal services are available to unaccompanied children. Children without family in the U.S. are at risk of being sent back to an unsafe situation. The best interests of these children should be a priority.
In a recent statement for World Refugee Day, Pope Francis said “Jesus was a refugee” and called upon Catholics and others to “alleviate their suffering in a concrete way.” We are responding the best we can through our Catholic Charities organizations and ask the government to do the same.
Most Rev. Michael Jackels, Archbishop of Dubuque
Most Rev. R. Walker Nickless, Bishop of Sioux City
Most Rev. Martin Amos, Bishop of Davenport
Most Rev. Richard Pates, Bishop of Des Moines
June 26, 2014