by Beate Matthies
The only thing the 58,000 children at the border of Mexico and United States of America want is
to be reunited with their families, says Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini of Huehuetenango diocese in Guatemala.
Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini, who visited New Zealand earlier this year for a presentation at the Mercy Spirituality Centre, thanks NZ Catholic (issue 445) for reporting on the situation of
thousands of children who are at the Mexican border with the US in the hopeof being reunited with family members.
Since October 2013, about 58,000 children have fled their home countries in Central America. Fifteen thousand of them are from Guatemala.
Bishop Ramazzini is one of the humanitarian leaders who say that an economic crisis, coupled with a new, more uncaring attitude by well-off Central Americans, have left many of their poor people destitute with few choices other than to look for better opportunities in the US.
The children flee because of violence, criminality and poverty — or just to reunite with their fathers, who left their homes to migrate as their last hope.
Some of the children search for fathers who were killed during their long and dangerous journey to the US. Some fathers might be in US jails waiting for their trials, after being caught as illegal immigrants.
Now those children are waiting at the border — without adults, without schooling and with no hope other than being accepted into the “promised land”, the United States.
Some of the children are brought there by so-called “coyotes”, people who don’t hesitate to take the last cents off a family and promise to bring the little ones safely to their relatives in the United States, where they hope to go to a good school and have a better life.
Once at the border, the children are abandoned. Many are just toddlers.
With only three months before the presidential elections in the USA, the in- flux of minors from Central America has become a political issue.
At the end of July, the Governor of California, Edmund G. Brown, convened a meeting of Mexican
and Central American religious and diplomatic leaders on immigration.
One of those leaders was Bishop Ramazzini. He also visited Guatemalan residents in Los Angeles who are concerned about the situation. They feel helpless.
The number of migrant children has increased so much during the last months that people start talking about a “plight” — but, as Bishop Ramazzini said in an interview in May this year, God wants all humans to be able to live as human persons.
We are all called to give hope and defend human rights.
The interview is still available at www.planetaudio.org.nz/bishopalvaroramazzini/archive.
Beate Matthies works for the Mercy Spirituality Centre in Auckland.
by Beate Matthies