Texas Bishops Ask Lawmakers for 'Time, Resources, Commitment' to Meet Needs of Refugee Children at Border

"Eschew the bitterness of contemporary political rhetoric and instead uphold the best of American principles"

Houston, Texas, (Zenit.org) | 899 hits

Here is a letter sent last week by the bishops of Texas to US Representative Michael McCaul
regarding the situation of refugee children at the US-Mexico border.

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Dear Representative McCaul,

As the bishops of the Catholic Dioceses of Texas, we strongly urge you--and your fellow policymakers at both the state and federal levels--to work toward achieving a policy consensus that compassionately and effectively addresses the humanitarian crisis along our southern border.

The influx of Central American women and children seeking asylum from the poverty and violence of their homelands has created a severe challenge along the border. As bishops, we have been touched by the valiant efforts of people of good will and faith-based service agencies from across the country and especially here in our own state of Texas to welcome and care for women and children in desperate situations. Effectively addressing this challenge requires, first of all, a continued commitment on the part of us all to uphold the human dignity of immigrant refugees. Further, facing this challenge requires a commitment from the government for sufficient funding and resources to adequately care for and protect women and children legitimately seeking asylum. These measures should be accompanied by sincere efforts that offer other alternatives to the stream of refugees, inform people of the dangers of such a journey, provide for legal and secure immigration, and develop policies that promote long-term solutions and stability in the migrants' countries of origin.

These goals are not impossible, nor are they mutually exclusive. What they require is time, resources, and commitment. The real challenge is how we collectively respond as a nation and as a people. To be sure, ensuring a stable and secure border between nations is essential to protecting and providing for order. At the same time, a just and reasonable society works to protect and defend the vulnerable and defenseless from harm. As Catholics, we feel keenly this responsibility, since our faith calls us to serve the least of these our brothers and sisters. Hence, we lend a vigorous voice to all men and women of good will who recognize that all people should be treated with dignity, compassion, and justice. We are most especially concerned for the innocent mothers and children, who are the most at the mercy of the decisions that we as a nation make in their regard.

This is not an isolated problem. In his letter earlier this month, Pope Francis cast these circumstances within a broader international humanitarian crisis of globalization, where national borders are increasingly open for commerce, media and technologies, but people remain burdened by restrictions, abuse, and dangerous situations. In his letter, Pope Francis reaffirmed his plea earlier this year in Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, that "A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world."

With this in mind, we ask for your support in securing emergency funding to address this problem. We further ask that any future legislation ensure sufficient due process consideration for those seeking asylum in order to avoid pre-emptive deportation of refugees back to lives of suffering, abuse, and quite possibly death. We appeal to you and other policymakers on both the state and federal levels to eschew the bitterness of contemporary political rhetoric and instead uphold the best of American principles and serve the needs of the most despairing and vulnerable in our midst.

Sincerely,

[Signed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston and the other 13 archbishops and bishops of Texas]