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USCCB Chairman Urges Obama Administration To Reconsider Proposed Policy To Return Unaccompanied Children to Their Home Countries Without Proper Due Process

Administration requests fast track authority to return minors
Children with valid asylum claims could be returned to their persecutors
Bipartisan cooperation needed to humanely address issue

July 2, 2014

WASHINGTON—Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, called upon the Obama Administration, July 2, to reconsider their proposed request to Congress for “fast track” authority to expedite the removal of unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America. Current law permits children from non-contiguous countries to remain in the country until their request for asylum or immigration relief is considered by an immigration judge.

“This is a very vulnerable population which has been targeted by organized crime networks in Central America,” said Bishop Elizondo. “To return them to these criminal elements without a proper adjudication of their cases is unconscionable.”

Under the policy of “expedited” removal, an individual is questioned by an immigration enforcement official without formal legal training in an effort to ascertain their fear of return. If the individual cannot adequately articulate a “credible” fear, they are immediately returned to their home countries. Children who are traumatized, without legal assistance and reluctant to speak to enforcement personnel rarely meet this standard.

“As a nation which has traditionally offered safe haven to those who are persecuted, this proposed policy undercuts our values as a nation,” Bishop Elizondo said. “The prospect of the United States sending vulnerable children back into the hands of violent criminals in their countries raises troubling questions about our moral character.”

“What we need is bipartisan cooperation to ensure that these children are protected,” said Bishop Elizondo. “This is an occasion in which we must rise above partisan politics and stand by our principles, namely compassion, justice, and adherence to our international obligations,” he said.

USCCB testimony on unaccompanied children can be found at www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/upload/BSeitzfinaltest.pdf

 
Pope Francis' Homily from Mass Attended by Victims of Abuse

Vatican City, 7 July 2014 (VIS) – The following is the full text of the homily pronounced this morning by Pope Francis during the Mass celebrated in the Sanctae Marthae Chapel, attended by six victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

“The scene where Peter sees Jesus emerge after a terrible interrogation… Peter whose eyes meet the gaze of Jesus and weeps… This scene comes to my mind as I look at you, and think of so many men and women, boys and girls. I feel the gaze of Jesus and I ask for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons. Today, I am very grateful to you for having travelled so far to come here.

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