Unaccompanied Minors Immigration Humanitarian Crisis
“In this humanitarian crisis, let us not forget that these immigrant families and children are human beings. They are children of God and must be treated with dignity and respect, care and compassion.” – Sr. Norma Pimentel, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.
Archdiocesan Response to Border Crisis – Press Release
August 18, 2014
Approximately 60,000 unaccompanied children have crossed our Nation’s southern border in the past 10 months compared to approximately 25,000 in the previous 12-month reporting period. Much debate is focused on the legal vs. illegal aspect of these crossings, but non-debatable are the humanitarian needs of these vulnerable children and families.
“Catholic social teaching is based on, and inseparable from our understanding of human life and human dignity. Every human being is created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ, and therefore is invaluable and worthy of respect as a member of the human family. Every person, from the moment of conception to natural death, has inherent dignity and a right to life consistent with that dignity. Human dignity comes from God, not from any human quality or accomplishment.” Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions.
Charity and Justice Must Guide Our Response
The necessity of a compassionate and charitable response to the needs of the vulnerable is inherent in our beliefs. We must also look at root causes to determine legal and legislative advocacy responses, which are appropriate for justice to exist. Toward that end, the Archdiocese of Dubuque, through its Catholic Charities office, has convened a group of concerned community members and proposes a multi-faceted response plan to include:
- Outreach and financial assistance to unaccompanied children and families who may take refuge in the Archdiocese;
- Financial assistance to those agencies that are providing social services;
- Coordination of immigration legal representation services to ensure due process is followed;
- Facilitate connections to bilingual mental health services;
- Communication of humanitarian and legislative action items.
To support these goals, the 166 archdiocesan parishes will be encouraged to take up a special collection on the weekend of August 23-24, 2014. The funds collected will be distributed to:
- Catholic Charities USA for case management services at the border;
- Catholic Relief Services, who are present and actively addressing root causes of the crisis in many of the countries of origin;
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque to support response efforts.
The Archdiocese will also provide financial support through allocation of moneys from the archdiocesan disaster relief fund.
Justice Through Legal Advocacy
The Catholic bishops of the U.S. have long advocated for immigrant rights. We seek comprehensive reform that allows people to earn citizenship in a way that recognizes their inherent dignity. There are many individuals in our country and our communities who are particularly vulnerable, including children, who are suffering from lack of legal protections because of their immigration status.
“There was reason enough in the past to act, but this latest phenomenon has made it all the more imperative. It is reasonable to expect that the federal government would also, now, finally, respond with appropriate immigration reform. Urge your representative to do what is right,” states Archbishop Michael Jackels.
Researching needs and continued concern:
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque will continue to learn about the full needs of these children and families as information becomes available, and and will work to call together parishes, groups and individuals who are concerned and interested in working towards long-term and short-term solutions to this crisis. If you are interested in participating, please contact Tracy Morrison (Dubuque), Steve Schmitz (Cedar Rapids) or Lori Williams (Ames) at the contacts below.
How can you help?
- Donations to support Archdiocesan efforts may be made online or by mail to:
Border Crisis Relief Fund
Archdiocese of Dubuque
1229 Mt. Loretta Ave.
Dubuque, IA 52003
For Groups/Communities Interested in Providing Hospitality for Immigrant Families:
New Partnership Supports Migrant Children’s Ability to Read
Catholic Charities USA is launching a joint site with First Books as part of its overall response to the humanitarian crisis at the border. Every $2.50 provides a brand-new book for one of these displaced children, helping them feel protected and cared for while they’re far from home. This site creates an easy opportunity for individuals to make a donation to purchase books which will be sent to the agencies most impacted by caring for the families and unaccompanied minors coming across the border. Visit and share to learn more and spread the word!
Additional Informational Resources:
- Justice for Our Neighbors Hotline for Immigration Legal Services for Children – English and Español
- Catholic Legal Immigration Network various information documents
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Unaccompanied Children Crisis
- Current Law vs various proposed law changes
- Office of Refugee Resettlement – Unaccompanied Children Released to Sponsors by State
- ACF Unaccompanied Children’s Services Fact Sheet
- General Process Infographic