Friday, August 1, 2014

Unaccompanied Children and United States Border Crisis

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of unaccompanied children crossing into the United States. In 2012 the number was 7,000; in 2013, about 24,000; and so far this year, more than 52,000 have arrived. The majority of the children are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Various reasons have been cited for the increase. A report from the UN Refugee Agency documents that these children are fleeing conscription into gangs and threats to their personal safety, including gender- and sexual- based violence.
The crisis has been deemed a humanitarian emergency, and the U.S. Government has appointed FEMA to lead the coordination effort to create a matrix of existing agencies and the services they can provide. (

The United States House and Senate are considering bills today that address the funding of this country's response to children arriving at our border and the protections given to them as they seek humanitarian protection in court. In addition the House is considering a bill that would limit the administrations ability to extend deferred action from deportation to a larger group of persons. (

As people of faith, we might want to consider the following questions:
  • How might our faith shape our response to this issue?
  • What spiritual issues are involved?
  • What response would be most appropriate?
Please leave any comments that you think are appropriate.


  1. I saw this article in on the PCUSA website: Survey: Most Americans say U.S. should shelter, not rush to deport, child migrants (

  2. I received the following e-mail yesterday from a colleague:

    Here is a firsthand account that we received last Saturday from our friends in Arizona, "a brief piece of info of what is happening in Yuma and nationwide in regard to the homeless refugee children and families coming across our border.

    Friday David Hicks reached out to PDA because the situation is getting too big for the Yuma ecumenical association to manage. This morning both PDA and Church World Services contacted him to get more info and (hooray!) actually asked him, "What do you need?" Yes!!! He told me he's hoping to find someplace other than church basements to house these moms and kids, like maybe someplace with showers? It might involve rent. Food is coming in from the area food bank, and the churches can provide people to be with the immigrants.

    One of the issues making it harder is the fact that anyone who can leave Yuma in the summer does so. Meaning that he won't be able to inform his own elders until Sunday - other churches of course have the same problem.

    Another issue is the expense of transporting migrants from where ICE drops them off to where ever they have family and/or connections. The cost for transporting people is picked up by their family.

    Again, these are not primarily Mexicans, so when the GOP screams "ship 'em home!" it's not that simple. They are not here looking for landscaping or housecleaning jobs, they are trying to escape death squads and drug cartels. So Church World Services may be instrumental in getting them recognized as refugees.

    The PCUSA is mobilizing through PDA (Presby Disaster Assistance.) There was a joint synod meeting from AZ thru TX this morning talking about all the different situations with children that are coming across. Right now, the PCUSA is not really going to be addressing the root of the problem in central America, but that will come later, probably through the peacemaking office in DC. What is happening will be a nationwide appeal for funds for these children. Yuma will be receiving part of these funds.

    Churches in Yuma already have feet on the ground and have people ready to help when refugees are dropped off at Wal Mart. These refugees are in incredible need, usually in a state of shock for the journey they have been through in the past month, and have family awaiting them somewhere in the nation. They are paroled from the border patrol, so they are documented, but have no language or (U.S.) cultural skills, etc. The churches only have them for about 24 hours, and then they move on to join family members. They will be required to appear in court, and most will be returned to their nation of origin.

    For anyone looking for ways to help, watch for the appeals from the nationwide church, and give generously. There will be an PDA account number associated with this cause. "

    We went to seminary with David Hicks.

    Sue Haseltine
    Steubenville, OH

  3. And here's another article in which you might find interesting: PDA issues appeal for funds to address border crisis: Money will help churches, mid councils already working on the border (

  4. Mason Malpass wrote: The cold hard fact is that encouraging people, some children among them, to break the law, and rewarding them to do so, is not Biblical. Any church that accepts government bribes to participate in this lawlessness, has left Christ and chosen the anti-Christ. There is no Biblical record of God's people doing this. When the children of Israel left Egypt, it was after Pharaoh gave them permission, though, regretting that decision, he and his army pursued them, resulting in the loss of himself and his army. When Israel entered Canaan, it was not by invitation. Now, just before Jesus went back to heaven, did He tell His disciples to invite all the oppressed people in the world to come to Israel, and they would be richly rewarded, even though the Romans who ruled over Israel, had not authorized it? Our constitution has not authorized it either. Instead, Jesus said Mark 16:15, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature". So, the real question is, Do we obey Christ? Or do we do a little feel good works, using other people's money?