Support for Unaccompanied Children at the Border

We are facing an escalating humanitarian crisis as a growing number of unaccompanied children cross the U.S.–Mexico border at an increasing and alarming rate. So far in FY 2014 alone 47,000 children have migrated to the border. 

Artwork from the Office of Refugee ResettlementThe face of these children has inundated the news cycle as the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services (HHS) attempt to address the needs of the newly arrived. It is from dire circumstances that a child chooses to migrate thousands of miles. As people of faith we have an ethical obligation to care for the most vulnerable among us. The root causes of these changing migration patterns are extreme poverty, violence, and rising homicide rates in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, from which most of the children are arriving.

At our most recent gathering our General Synod called on the churches of the United Church of Christ to respond to violence and human rights violations in Honduras in a spirit of solidarity, and to hold the people of Honduras in prayer. Many UCC Congregations across the country are wondering how they can help in this time of crisis. Currently the government is fulfilling its obligation to care for these children and there is currently no need for individual food or supply donations.

We can help to ensure that the U.S. refugee services programs, which help serve the needs of these young people and other families fleeing violence, are funded appropriately so they can continue to meet this growing need.

Under the law, HHS is responsible for feeding and caring for the children after border security officials take them into their custody. The department carries the largest share of costs in handling the response to this crisis.

Your voice can make a difference! The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services has recommended an additional $1.9 billion for the Office of Refugee Resettlement to fund the care of unaccompanied children, in addition to its requested budget to help refugees and other vulnerable migrants in its care. Now the House must act.

Call on your Representative today to urge the House Appropriations Committee to approve and increase the $1.9 billion that the Senate subcommittee recommends for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement to help these children.

Read the UCC response to crisis of unaccompanied minors from Central America for more information and other ways to engage.

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