USCCB Delegation Examines Massive Youth Exodus from Central America
January 27th, 2014
A delegation from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently traveled to Central America and Mexico to examine and understand why unaccompanied migrant children are fleeing the region in such record numbers. The situation has reached crisis level. Whereas the number of children apprehended on the U.S./Mexico border averaged 6,800 between 2004-2011, it jumped to over 13,000 children in 2012 and over 24,000 children in 2013. The projected number for fiscal year 2014 is 60,000-70,000. Most come from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. There are many factors that prompt these children to undertake such a perilous journey, and the delegation delves into those in their report. But simply put, these children are fleeing violence: generalized violence at both the state and local levels, which has led to a breakdown of the rule of law and created a culture of fear and hopelessness.
The delegation was led by Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, and included Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC); Reverend Daniel Groody, Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame, and consultant to the USCCB Committee on Migration; Jane Bloom, Director, Washington Office of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC); Kristyn Peck, Associate Director of Children’s Services, MRS/USCCB; Ashley Feasley, Immigration Policy Advisor, MRS/ USCCB; and Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration Policy and Public Affairs, MRS/USCCB.