Corey Almond, VP for Family Immigration Servies at Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, has just spent a week in Washington DC at the National Migration Conference. The conversation regarding the Unaccompanied Minors situation was front and center. Here is a dispatch on this issue.
Though theories abound on why people are coming, one thing seems for sure: the children and families that are arriving by the thousands at the border are not coming under light pretenses. “These are not accidental tourists,” the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement told the room full of Catholic ministry representatives from across the country, “if you look at the cases, most look like refugees.”
Clergy, nuns, Catholic Charities workers, representatives from USCCB, CRS, and many others are gathered in Washington, D.C. to talk about migration and responses to it. Discussion centers not only around what to do with people who arrive, but also what we are called to be doing in work with relief and development to address the underlying issues, as well as advocacy for policies that are reasonable yet humane.
Apart from the policy discussions, Catholic ministries are acting to help people at the border in a state of great need. The local Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley is operating a shelter where an average of 174 people arrive each day in the midst of processing. This is a ministry of feeding, clothing, and connecting to critical services. The USCCB Migration and Refugee Services and their affiliates are providing home-studies for foster care and family reunification, as well as long-term case management for unaccompanied minors. This is nothing new, but the services are currently being overwhelmed by the need.
CCUSA disaster relief services is in a consultative role with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services, bridging the gap between these two agencies vastly different in their approaches. Catholic Relief Services, a ministry that we promote with parishes through our Parish Social Ministry program, is working in the countries where violence and hunger are occurring to combat those pressures.
If you are interested in learning more about why the children are coming to the United States and what the Catholic Church response is, click here for a detailed webinar: Children Traveling Alone: The Catholic Church’s Response