WASHINGTON--On World Refugee Day, celebrated June 20, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, called upon the U.S. government to do more to assist vulnerable Syrian refugees in the Middle East and to protect the rights of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
"The Syrian refugee crisis in the Middle East has reached a point of humanitarian disaster," said Bishop Elizondo. "Although the United States has provided overseas support to these refugees, other forms of relief, including possible resettlement of the most vulnerable, should be seriously considered." The United States has resettled a total of 42 refugees this year, compared to a Syrian refugee population of over two million persons.
Bishop Elizondo also talked about the current migration of children from Central American as a refugee situation. As many as 47,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border since the beginning of the year in order to escape violence in their home countries.
"These children are indeed fleeing for their lives and must be looked at through a protection lens, not through an enforcement lens," said Bishop Elizondo. "We must not send them back if they have valid protection claims. It would be akin to sending them back into a burning house."
In making his comments, Bishop Elizondo referred to the World Refugee Day message of Pope Francis, released June 18. In the statement, the Holy Father said that "Jesus was a refugee" and called upon Catholics and others to "alleviate their suffering in a concrete way."
"As the world's most powerful nation, the United States has a responsibility to help 'alleviate the suffering' of the world's refugees, including vulnerable children, consistent with the Holy Father's message," Bishop Elizondo concluded. "The world looks to the United States as a leader in international refugee protection. We must not shirk this responsibility."
For more information, visit: http://www.usccb.org/about/resettlement-services/world-refugee-day.cfm