As the news of the large numbers of unaccompanied children apprehended along the border began to break, CLINIC went into high gear to figure out how we could support our affiliates and other service providers inundated with requests for assistance from this vulnerable population. Training is one of the things CLINIC does best so we started to think about what type of training would be most useful. My colleague Debbie Smith and I took the lead on developing the curriculum, materials and webinars for a course. With assistance from other CLINIC staff, we put together a four-week course co
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"If you listen very closely, you can hear the detained families chanting and yelling along with us. This was a very moving experience. Many participants were moved to tears when they heardthe women and children’s voices from the other side of the fence.”
Last week, I visited the family detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, and saw first hand how our country is responding to the issue of women and children seeking refuge at our border. I also had the opportunity to see in action how the Catholic Church is responding to these same women and children.
Tragic images of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are flooding the airwaves, begging a humanitarian response, as well as hard questions. Why are these children coming here? Why now and why in such large numbers?
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, approximately 57,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed into the United States since the 2014 fiscal year began in October—twice the number apprehended in 2013 and three times the 2011 total.
Like most of us these days, we are all faced with how to respond in a pastoral way to the humanitarian challenges in front of us with unaccompanied minors coming into our country. I recently visited with a number of these young people with some of our staff members of the Diocesan Pastoral Center here in Orange.
On June 25, 2014, Bishop Mark Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso testified before the House Judiciary Committee about the plight of unaccompanied minors seeking safety from violence and drug trafficking in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Bishop Seitz told a largely unsympathetic House Committee of his personal experience listening to the s
Jeanne M. Atkinson is the Executive Director of CLINIC. From November 16-23, she participated in a delegation led by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to southern Mexico and Central America to explore the issue of unaccompanied migrant children.