GSR Today - A couple of weeks ago a headline caught my attention: “How can a three year old represent himself in court?” Having been a legal aid attorney for over 20 years, I was curious. How could anyone expect that? We in the U.S. have legal protections in place when children’s welfare is at stake. The system has safeguards which are supposed to prevent their return to dangerous situations.
Although the flood of Central American refugee families arriving in El Paso this past summer has now dwindled to a slow but steady trickle, the local border community remains committed to raising a robust call for comprehensive immigration reform.
Sister of Mercy Marlene Perrotte is all too familiar with violence causing thousands of Central Americans to flee their countries: in the ‘80s when guerilla groups like the Sendero Luminoso were terrorizing Peru, she was there serving as a Maryknoll associate. She’s also worked with the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, providing legal services to unaccompanied minors on the Mexico-U.S. border. Today, she’s working with the American Immigration Lawyers Association to provide legal aid for the hundreds of Central American women and children being detained in Artesia, N.M.
Since 2006, large waves of refugees fleeing from brutal regimes in Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia have made their way to Israel, surviving harrowing journeys with smugglers in harsh desert conditions. Altogether, there are approximately 55,000 African asylum seekers in Israel, 35,000 from Eritrea alone. Sr. Azezet Kidane of Comboni Sisters was honored for her role in exposing existence of torture camps in Sinai desert. Now, she must help her community heal.
GSR Today - You can join hundreds of women religious who have been sending letters of support to the immigrant families detained on the U.S. side of the border waiting for their hearings, with help from Catholic Legal Immigration Network.
The Kingdom is certainly “already but not yet.” People like Sr. Sarah Mulligan, SC, and her passionate colleagues are working for change throughout Guatemala, but it is an uphill battle. The corrupt government, Sarah says, does little to lift up its people living in economic poverty. I asked her what the administration’s response has been to the deluge of migrants fleeing north. She told me that initially the country’s leaders considered punishing families who send their children with a few years of jail time for “irresponsible parenting.” Resistance from human rights groups led them to nix the punishment, one that would thrust already suffering families into even greater desperation.
Organizations responding to the immigration crisis on the United States’ southern border initially faced their biggest challenge in the overwhelming numbers of refugees coming across. Now, their challenge is a federal administration bent on sending them back: “We are very disheartened by the President’s aggressive actions towards immigrants,” said Holy Cross Sr. Suzanne Brennan, who directs Holy Cross Ministries in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Hundreds of protesters took part in a rally and march in Washington Aug. 28 chanting: "Not one more! Not one more!" to urge President Barack Obama to stop the deportation of immigrant families, workers and children. Mercy Sr. Anne Curtis, joined by a group of women religious, stressed the sisters' long-term commitment in working with immigrant families and trying to secure a just immigration reform. "We're concerned about families that are separated and what happens to these women and children," she told CNS.
A makeshift detention center in a remote New Mexico town has been called "a deportation machine" by attorneys volunteering to provide services to refugee migrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala; due process is at risk as rights are glossed over and hearings are rushed. Sisters and other Catholics are concentrating on advocacy.
Inspired by Nicaraguan refugees attending the high school where Dominican Sister of Hope Debbie Blow served as campus minister, the group went to repair damage caused by Hurricane Mitch. Almost two decades later, Blow is now the co-founder and executive director of North Country Mission of Hope, a “humanitarian, spiritually based” organization providing education and community development in Nicaragua. She talked with GSR about the current wave of child migrants to the U.S.
- Page 1