Hope of refuge drives people to take incredible risks. For most us, the idea of sending a child alone on a trek of thousands of miles across a strange country is incomprehensible. However, thousands of parents in Central America are doing just that in hopes that their children will find a safer and better life than theirs.
So far this year, more than 40,000 unaccompanied children, mostly from Central America, have entered the United States illegally. This deluge of refugee children has overwhelmed Border Patrol and Health and Human Services facilities and the flow is unceasing.
Obviously, the cause of this flood of refugee children — the unstable and unsafe conditions of some Central American countries — must be addressed, but the immediate problem is the children who are being warehoused in overcrowded and unsafe temporary facilities by the government.
I am working with Catholic Charities of Dallas to move quickly to work with the government and other non-governmental agencies to provide safe havens for these children. Catholic Charities has expertise in working with refugees from generations of experience, but the unaccompanied children present unique problems —both legal and protective.
Our diocese has no residential facility, but individual placements have already begun. We are gearing up to provide safe refuge for additional children pending judicial action. Already this calendar year, 1,000 unaccompanied refugee children were released to family members who reside in the Dallas Immigration Court jurisdiction.
This tragic situation must be addressed with prayer, wisdom and compassion. As we observe World Refugee Day today, I ask that you please join me in praying for the welfare of these youngsters and that leaders on both sides of the border will work to address this issue.
Image Credit: Unaccompanied migrant children seen at a U.S. government facility in south Texas (CNS photo/ handout, Reuters) (June 16, 2014)