More than 700 children taken from their parents at USA border


This year on the Mexico-United State border, immigrants coming into the United States, even those applying for asylum at ports of entry, have been having their children taken from them.

According to data prepared by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), from October 2017 to April 2018 more than 700 children were taken from adults claiming to be their parents.

This includes more than 100 children under the age of 4.

The ORR is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services that takes custody of children removed from migrant parents.

Brownsville is a Texas town on the Mexico-United State border. This is the town in which New Zealand priest Fr. Tony O’Connor works. He has recently contributed some opinion pieces to CathNewsNZ Asia and Pacific.

Brownsville has become the centre of media attention in recent weeks.

Beginning late April, the magistrates’ courts there suddenly turned into “zero tolerance” factories for criminalising migrants.

It used to be rare to charge migrants seeking asylum with crimes. If they did so, they were put into detention with their children while they pursued their claims.

Or they were released with supervision — along with their children.

The best interests of the children were considered paramount, and those interests included keeping families together.

But now, not only are parents finding themselves charged in federal courts with the crime of “illegal entry,” the government is breaking up families, sending children to detention centres or to foster homes.

The children can often end up hundreds of kilometres away from their mothers and fathers.

One of the few places immigrants can gather peacefully and without danger is churches.

Many of those churches are Catholic.

Still, in some ways, the US bishops are stuck in the middle.

Many of their white parishioners voted for Trump and his anti-immigrant platform, while Pope Francis has stood for the opposite when it comes to immigration issues.

While they stand together, bishops retain their individuality.

They differ on strategies, approaches and how much of a priority they put on the issue of immigration.


Additional reading

News category: Top Story, World.

Tags: , , , ,