· Archbishop of Chicago addresses the situation of immigrants in the United States ·
A moral framework also provides us with the language to speak about the humanitarian challenges in our own backyard in a way that helps our citizens take a second look at the problem. Since the spring of 2014, we have witnessed thousands — close to 110,000 each of unaccompanied children and families — flee to our southern border in search of protection from violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America — Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — countries with some of the highest murder rates in the world. As a response, our government has deployed a policy of deterrence to this migration, characterized by the detention of families in the United States and the U.S.-backed interdiction of children and families in southern Mexico and in parts of Central America. We must replace this policy of deterrence with one of protection, both here in the United States and in the region. Your telling of the stories of the threats to life these children and families face because of violence in their homeland is important to the public debate. Their stories give a sure footing for making the case that those interdicted must be provided a real chance for asylum, with children being assessed under a best interest of the child principle. All refugees should have a real opportunity to tell their stories to a judge, assisted by legal counsel, and should not be detained unnecessarily. Family detention, which further traumatizes women and children, should be ended.
The Church and her agencies, including Catholic Charities and the Catholic Legal Immigrant Network, Inc, are ready to help and partner with the government to provide material support and legal aid. Instead of exporting enforcement resources, we must export development assistance, especially targeted at youth development, and protection systems that give fleeing persons a chance at safe haven in the region. All of this has enormous consequences for our stature in the world. If we are unable to meet the humanitarian challenge in our own backyard, we will lose our stature as a humanitarian leader globally. The world will measure what we say about liberty and justice against our actions. So, if we want liberty and justice, let us give liberty and justice.
Blase J. Cupich