Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Migrant Children Require Humanitarian Response

For those of us living in the United States, especially here in the southwest, we have been inundated with
unaccompanied children making border crossing and then immediately turning themselves in to Border Patrol agents. 

Their families pay money to send them here then worry if they will survive to live another day. Indeed, things are that dire in their own countries. What, I ask, is the Christian response?

Here is a place to start:  http://action.groundswell-mvmt.org/petitions/address-humanitarian-crisis-of-unaccompanied-children-in-immigration-detention 

TO: PRESIDENT OBAMA, JEH JOHNSON, SECRETARY OF DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS 

As people of faith, we call on you to address the magnitude and urgency of the humanitarian crisis of migrant children, by taking the following immediate and appropriate actions:
  • Provide generous emergency funds to address this large-scale humanitarian crisis. The House Appropriations Committee should approve and increase the $1.9 billion approved that the Senate subcommittee recommends for the Office of Refugee Resettlement to help these children. 
  • Provide safe and humane living conditions, medical care and mental health support without delay. 
  • Provide access to visitation, pastoral care, play and activities appropriate for children. 
  • Provide legal assistance and legal representation to all children. 
  • Collaborate creatively with the faith community, non-governmental agencies, the United Nations Refugee Agency, and all who care about this humanitarian disaster. 
  • Release the children as quickly as possible with their family members in the U.S. and/or therapeutic placements, mentor homes, and foster homes for young children and pregnant and parenting teens, rather than placing such children in large institutional settings. 
  • Require that all children released from federal custody receive follow up services to ensure their safety and well being. 
  • Improve the trafficking screening, training and protocols along the border so that children entering the United States are properly evaluated and that victims of trafficking and persecution are effectively identified and referred for appropriate services. 
  • Ensure accurate investigation of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) abuse and allow independent human rights monitoring to ensure oversight and transparency of the handling of these children, in order to prevent further abuses from occurring. See more resources at 

“You are not to abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them in any way, and they cry to me, I will certainly heed their cry. - Exodus: 22: 21-23 

“Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. “ - Luke 18:16 

As people of faith we see all children as our children. We believe that all children must be ensured international protection and be treated with dignity and respect. We believe we are called to care for all children, as if they were our own. 

The reasons these children have left their countries of origins are complex and interrelated and have been well documented by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees Report, “Children on the Run,” which has warned of this growing humanitarian crisis. The vast majority have come seeking refuge from surges of violence, and to be reunited with their parents and families living in the United States. Extreme poverty and economic forces, along with situations of surging violence has pushed many of these children out of their home countries. Many have endured horrific trauma and violence as they flee their countries often crossing multiple borders. 

It is heartbreaking and appalling to see and hear of the inadequate conditions in which children are being held along the US southern border. Children should never be held in detention facilities or makeshift holding centers. Policing and enforcement agencies should not be taking care of children. independent oversight and human rights monitoring must be allowed to ensure the safety and protection of these children. Children should be reunited with their families in the U.S. immediately. 

We as people of faith believe that these children must not be forgotten . We call on our government to act with purpose and humanitarian resolve.

This petition is sponsored by Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice- California, the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Interfaith Center for Worker Justice in San Diego, the Cal-Pacific Immigration Task Force of the United Methodist Church and attendees of the Let My People Work Conference in Los Angeles (June 9-11, 2014).

How it will be delivered

Press Conference and Delivery of Letter to White House, Department of Homeland Security and appropriate House of Representatives.