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USCCB Committee Chairman Calls on President Obama, Central American Presidents To Protect Children and Families

Protection, not interdiction, should be priority
Root causes of violence and poverty should be addressed
Reaffirms opposition to changes in law to send children back

July 24, 2014

WASHINGTON—Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, today called upon President Obama and the Central American presidents to protect and care for children and families fleeing violence in the region. On July 25, Presidents Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala, Salvador Sánchez Cerén of El Salvador, and Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras are slated to meet with President Obama at the White House to discuss the current humanitarian challenge.

“The leaders should focus upon the protection of these children and families, as they are charged with as the heads of their nations,” said Bishop Elizondo. “Instead of cooperating on intercepting them and sending them back to dangerous situations, they should work together to protect them from those dangers, including providing them asylum in neighboring countries and in the United States.”

“Over the long-term,” Bishop Elizondo said, “a strategy must be devised to address the violence and lack of opportunity in the countries of Central America. Specific attention should be paid to helping at-risk youth remain safe and access opportunity at home,” he said.

Bishop Elizondo also reaffirmed USCCB opposition to proposals to amend current law to speed the deportations of the children without giving them the benefit of an immigration hearing. Congress is scheduled to consider supplemental appropriations legislation next week to fund the care of children and families arriving at the border.

“We oppose linking changes to the law – changes which could send children back to harm –to the funding bill, which is needed to humanely respond to this situation,” Bishop Elizondo said. “Families, as well, should receive a fair hearing of their asylum claims.”

More information on the USCCB position is available at:www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/unaccompanied-migrant-children-resource-kit.cfm

 

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