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Migrants disembark from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bus in Arizona. (CNS photo/Samantha Sais, Reuters)
Jesuits Respond to Child Immigration Crisis

June 13, 2014 — Jesuit Father Sean Carroll is an eyewitness to the current immigration crisis that has seen a surge of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to flee violence and extreme poverty in their home countries. On June 11, Fr. Carroll visited the U.S. Border Patrol Station in Nogales, Arizona, where nearly 1,100 of these children are being held after being transported from South Texas.

“We were given a briefing and were able to tour the place where the children are staying, though we were not able to speak with the children,” reported Fr. Carroll, who is executive director of the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a Jesuit ministry in Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, that provides assistance to deported migrants.

Fr. Carroll said most of the children are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and many are seeking to be with their parents in the United States.

Although he was unable to meet with the children, he did see some of the young people going to lunch.  “Most are teenagers but there are a smaller number of younger children,” he said.  “Based on the way they looked and on the facilities that had been set up, their physical needs seem to be met.  Their psychological and spiritual well-being is less clear to me, due to the inability to speak and interact with the young people.”

Jesuit Father Sean CarrollAccording to Fr. Carroll, the KBI remains committed to collaborating with other churches and organizations to address the needs of these children.  Fr. Carroll has been in contact with Rev. David Myers, Senior Adviser to FEMA, and has requested a plan to outline the needs of the children and a process to solicit and receive donations.

“We want to ensure that these children's needs are being met,” said Fr. Carroll. “It has frankly been frustrating to not get concrete feedback on a plan that would help volunteers receive donations and help the needs of these children.”

Despite the challenges, Fr. Carroll said, “We will keep urging the federal government to work with us to provide direction and focus, so we can offer assistance in the most effective way possible.”

For more information, view Myths and Facts Regarding Rising Numbers of Central American Migrants Arriving in the United States. [Sources: KBICBS 5 KPHO, Arizona Daily Star]

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