Statement of Principles Regarding Refugee Families and Children
From the Texas Catholic Conference
Our state confronts a continuing humanitarian crisis on the border as Central American children continue to seek refuge from the violence and exploitation in their home countries. This influx has sparked contentious debate over how to address this problem.
As Catholics we are called to compassion for the vulnerable and needy. Pope Francis has noted that Jesus was Himself a refugee who was forced into exile in Egypt as a child with Joseph and Mary.
In welcoming refugee children today, we should see the face of Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus instructs us to welcome the stranger: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it unto me.” (Mt. 25-35).
The Texas Catholic Bishops have established a set of principles to guide our policymakers in this crisis:
- Government immigration agencies and law enforcement personnel should treat all refugees seeking asylum with dignity, fairness, compassion, and in full accordance with their due process rights in seeking asylum. Expedited processing risks diminishing due process and mistakes on legitimate asylum claims.
- Allocate emergency funding to provide humanitarian aid for refugees, to ensure resources for governmental workers to efficiently perform their jobs, and to allow existing refugee programs to continue.
- Preserve the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to protect refugee children fleeing violence, exploitation, and possible death in their home countries.
- Reaffirm the nation’s right and responsibility to maintain secure borders and to intercept unauthorized migrants by targeted, proportional, and humane measures.
- Both governmental and non-governmental agencies should broadly communicate the risks and dangers of violence, exploitation, and possible denial of asylum that may await potential migrants considering the trek north.
- The federal government should collaborate with the governments of Central America and Mexico to alleviate the root problems of this situation, including human trafficking, violent gangs and cartels, poverty, and structural injustice.
We must remember that these are young, scared, and desperate mothers and children in need and deserve our protection and support. We pray for the safety and wellbeing of these young refugees and for the continued efforts of public officials to resolve this humanitarian crisis.