by John Sexton 22 Jul 2014
Catholic Leaders Respond To Gov. Perry's Immigration Proposal
Faith leaders of various denominations are interceding on behalf of Central American children now arriving at the U.S. border. This week both evangelicals and Catholics put out calls to help in various ways.
A group of evangelical organizations will send a letter to Congress today asking lawmakers not to change a 2008 law which makes it more difficult to deport minors arriving from Central America. Politico reports the letter was put together by a coalition called the Evangelical Immigration Table which is composed of "the National Association of Evangelicals, World Relief, Bread for the World, Christian Community Development Association, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, World Vision U.S. and Sojourners."
The letter reads in part, "As our nation responds to this humanitarian crisis, we are thankful for laws that protect children and provide for their needs. While our systems are currently stretched, our laws uphold basic child protection principles."
The law in question was intended to prevent trafficked children from being returned to a dangerous situations. It prevents the U.S. border patrol from quickly deporting kids arriving from Central America (as opposed to those arriving from Mexico). Instead, the law requires that Border Patrol turn kids over to HHS while they await a chance to see a judge.
In relation to that aspect of the law, yesterday a pair of Catholic bishops called on lawyers to help them assist the children who are facing deportation. Bishop Kevin Farrell told the Dallas Morning News, "Our purpose is to help and provide volunteer attorneys to represent them in the one chance they have." Catholic charities have been representing immigrant children in court for the last four years.
The ongoing crisis has been a source of division even between pastors working in the same city. Pastors Robert Jeffress and Frederick Haynes both lead mega-churches in Dallas. Jeffress, who appears on Fox News, argued the U.S. should build a fence on the border. Haynes gave a sermon calling the comments "fear mongering."
Many of the faith groups involved in caring for the children appear to be to the left of the White House and Hillary Clinton both of whom have said the majority of the children will need to be deported.