By Cathy Harasta
The Texas Catholic
Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell on July 21 cited Scripture in calling for a humane and non-partisan lens as the gateway to addressing the flow of unaccompanied minor children who have crossed the nation’s southwestern border.
The bishop elucidated the Catholic Church’s perception of the humanitarian crisis as not about immigration law and border policies but about protecting children, most of whom have left violent settings in Central America.
“I believe that this is an important situation in the life of our community and the life of our nation,” said Bishop Farrell, who was joined by Catholic Charities of Dallas officials and Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson at a news conference at the Diocese of Dallas Pastoral Center. “We’re the No. 1 country in the world where it comes to helping people.
“We spend billions of dollars going all over the world to help people…We need to open our hearts and our arms to these young people who are threatened.”
Arne Nelson, the President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Dallas, said that his organization continues to provide legal assistance to children already with family “custodians’’ in North Texas. The charity has provided legal assistance to hundreds of children and their custodian families in areas such as preparing for their hearings in immigration courts.
Vanna Slaughter, who directs the Immigration and Legal Services Department of Catholic Charities of Dallas, said that her organization needs Spanish-speaking attorneys and legal experts who can volunteer to represent the children.
The influx reportedly could reach an estimated 70,000 unaccompanied immigrant children this year. Several hundred children could arrive for sheltering in Dallas County, according to an initiative launched by Dallas Country judge Clay Jenkins.
“These are our brothers and sisters,” Bishop Farrell said. “We need to care for them.
“We will collaborate with all people of good will.”
Bishop Farrell said that the humanitarian crisis could test the moral character of the United States.
He quoted Matthew 25:35-46: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
“When people are worried about what must we do to gain eternal life, there’s a very simple answer that Jesus gave us 2,000 years ago,” Bishop Farrell said.