The situation of children and families crossing the border is nothing new. It has been taking place for many years, but it's being highlighted now, because the numbers are larger than usual.
President Obama has told the children to stop coming because it's too dangerous. Yet he also knows the danger back home (with the drug cartel) is also bad. Children and families are constantly being killed and tortured in Central America. Many of the children arrive with no parents. Parents are so desperate that they send them alone. Sometimes the parents have already been murdered.
Some families decide to take that trip north to the United States even though they may be killed along the way, because staying home means death for sure. I cannot even imagine the fear of taking a trip like that.
You finally reach the border to find yourself sleeping on a hard floor with hundreds of others like yourself and later put on a bus where you are met by protesters yelling, "Go back where you came from!" They must feel so sad. Where are the compassion and the love that Jesus asks of us? They are refugees. They risk their lives to get here.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops through its Department of Migration and Refugee Services has been working in this ministry for many years. The Department of Migration and Refugee Services is one of the largest non-government agencies that provides for the needs of refugee children and families. These children flee their homes because of persecution, war, hunger, poverty, family or community violence.
We should be very proud of the USCCB. This Department of Migration and Refugee Services works together with a national network of 12 state-licensed, unaccompanied refugee minor foster care programs for the ongoing care of children, which are run through various Catholic Charities offices in the United States.
For more information on this topic, go to the Justice for Immigrants website or www.usccb.org, where you can download "The United States Guiding Principles for Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program: Guiding Principles and Guiding Practices." You can also learn how to foster one of these children.
Let us pray to the Holy Family to guide this whole situation. Stop the violence, drugs and everything that causes these children to leave their homes and families. Keep those who flee safe along their journey and, once they get here, let us welcome them with love and compassion. Amen.