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Reacting to Surge in Unaccompanied Children Crossing Border, USCCB Chair Calls on Administration, Congress to Offer Protection, Address Root Causes Print E-mail

Complicated Problem, but Roots Must Be Addressed
Children Vulnerable to Human Traffickers, Smugglers
Humanitarian Crisis Demands Response from Multiple Government Branches

June 4, 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 Administration and Congress to protect unaccompanied children from Mexico and Central America crossing the border and to respond to the root causes of poverty and increasing violence as a long-term solution to the issue.

“This is a very complicated problem, but its roots must be addressed, both by our government and governments in the region,” said Bishop Elizondo in June 4 remarks. He added that the recent announcement by the Administration of an inter-agency task force headed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was a “good first step.”

“These children are extremely vulnerable to human traffickers and unscrupulous smugglers and must be protected. Over the long term, the increasing violence from gangs and organized crime in their home countries must be addressed and controlled so they can be secure in their homes.”

In November, a delegation from the USCCB Committee on Migration, led by Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, visited Mexico and Central America to examine the push factors driving child migration to the United States. Their report and policy recommendations can be found at:
www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/upload/Mission-To-Central-America-FINAL-2.pdf

“This is an issue which should not become politicized or give cause for negative rhetoric,” said Bishop Elizondo. “It is truly a humanitarian crisis which requires a comprehensive response and cooperation between the branches of the U.S. government. Young lives are at stake.”