OPEN LETTER TO THE USCCB
EXTEND SAFE ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION TO UNACCOMPANIED ALIEN CHILDREN (UAC)
The horrific exploitation of children illegally trafficked into the United States is the subject of hearings before Congressional Judiciary Committees – it is a matter of time before a journalist or the Judiciary Committees identify the role of the Catholic Church in this historic travesty.
As you gather to meet in Baltimore, I pray that you will elevate consideration of the safety of the unaccompanied migrant children who have passed through, or are in, the care of the U.S. Catholic Church. These children are referred to as Unaccompanied Alien Children under the USCCB funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and are known within USCCB as “UACs”.
More accurately, they are children illegally trafficked into the United States, whether by familial adults, coyotes, or cartels. They are not aliens; they are children separated from their families and communities, ushered by adults to rugged and perilous territory to cross an international border alone. They have come in the hundreds of thousands, already victims, and gravely vulnerable to further exploitation and abuse. Undisclosed numbers have passed through, or are in, the care of the Catholic Church through its ministries for UACs.
Our Church has developed deep expertise in creating and maintaining a “Safe Environment” for children, an expertise born from the darkest hours of disregard for the well-being of children in our care. The acceptance of responsibility for the consequences of this disregard, legally, financially, and morally, has challenged the Church dearly – but transparency, reparations, and prevention, all with the involvement of lay expertise, has brought hope and light following this dark and costly period of failure.
Our Church must immediately tap and deploy this expertise in view of the gravity of harm being done to unaccompanied migrant children and the USCCB’s role as partner with the ORR in processing, placing, and monitoring these children.
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