January 5, 2016 — Today the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States issued a statement denouncing the Obama administration’s decision to conduct nationwide raids on people who have fled Central America.
On the eve of the Christmas holiday, media outlets reported the administration’s plan to round up and deport Central American families and adult asylum seekers, “despite the fact that the Northern Triangle of Central America is undergoing a human rights crisis that has resulted in the forced migration of hundreds of thousands of Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadoran citizens,” according to the statement.
“We are especially disturbed by reports of immigration officials forcibly entering residences in Georgia and Texas over the last several days to conduct invasive searches and round ups of Central American asylum seekers, including children as young as four,” the statement said.
Father William Kelley, SJ, Secretary for Social and International Ministry at the Jesuit Conference, noted that the work of the Jesuits in Central America “has allowed us to witness firsthand the tragic unraveling of respect for fundamental human rights and the rule of law in the region.”
Fr. Kelley said that children and adults in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are often caught between gang members who control the area and militarized police, while others are forced from their lands because of corruption.
“These are the factors that drive people to flee for their lives. These problems cannot be addressed through irresponsible and insensitive immigration tactics. Rather, the root causes of the forced displacement must be addressed,” said Fr. Kelley.
The Jesuit Conference, along with other faith-based organizations and leaders, also signed a letter to President Obama seeking his assurance that centers of worship will remain free from immigration enforcement actions and surveillance. “Places of worship must remain safe and sacred spaces where all families can engage in their respective faith traditions without fear of harassment or monitoring by immigration officials,” the letter said.Read the full Jesuit Conference statement here and the letter to President Obama here.
Below is a documentary directed by Jesuit Father Jeremy Zipple that explores violence and injustice in Honduras.