Children who emigrate alone
Year after year, from 2011 to this day the number of minors who risk their lives crossing Central America alone to reach the United States has doubled. Although there were then fewer than 7,000, it is expected that there will be more than 60,000 in 2014. In recognition of this umpteenth humanitarian crisis, the Pentagon has announced that since the centres for this purpose risk bursting at the seams it will host 1,800 children who have arrived in the United States from Central America on their own. In the meantime the authorities in Nogales, Arizona, transferred more than 1,000 children from customs office cells to border police premises. After visiting these structures fenced in by barbed wire, set up at Nogales, Tony Banegas, honorary consul of Honduras – who wanted to meet each one of the 236 Honduran children present – said: “they live in a cellar, they sleep in plastic containers with thermal blankets such as those made of aluminium foil, they use portable latrines”. The Church informs the authorities that these are child migrants, not criminals. On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example, Bishop Mark Joseph Seitz of El Paso is reminding politicians that these children are leaving to flee violence: “these young people, but there are also children aged five, do not leave their communities for new adventures but rather to escape from wars. A war that their governments are losing when they fail to protect their peoples”. For her part Sr Valdett Willeman of the Scalabrini Missionaries, who is currently Head of the Assistance Centre for Returning Migrants, reports alarming numbers: in the month of May alone more than 100 children were repatriated by air, without counting those deported by land; and while in this first part of 2014 alone over 3,000 have been repatriated, in the past few years their number has exceeded 15,000.
St. Peter’s Square
Jan. 23, 2019
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