Jesuits reach out to congress regarding the border crisis

American Jesuit clergy are pushing members of Congress who were educated at Jesuit schools to give aid to thousands of refugee children who have surged across the border in recent months, calling any proposal to deport them as “inhumane and an insult to American values.”

“I ask you, as a leader, a parent, and a Catholic, to uphold an American tradition of which we are all proud,” the Rev. Thomas Smolich said to the members of Congress, including John Boehner, that attended Jesuit schools.

“We must welcome the refugee, the victim of trafficking, the child who has been abused or abandoned,” Smolich wrote. “Let us follow in the footsteps of Jesus when he said, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”

Since last fall, more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors have flooded across the border. The migrants are driven out of Central America by violence in their home countries and drawn to the U.S. by prospects of better economic opportunities or the chance to reunite with family members. They mostly came across the Texas border, where the river provided good cover and easy access. The recent influx has created a humanitarian crisis that has also become a political issue.

The Senate seemed eager to pass the $3.7 billion package proposed by President Obama, but the Republican-led House on Thursday abandoned efforts to vote on a smaller $659 million emergency funding measure to deal with the crisis. That proposal would have curtailed the anti-trafficking law passed in 2008 under President Bush. Some conservatives wanted tougher policies against refugee children and other immigrants.

“It was un-American; it was un-biblical; it was inhumane,” Dolan wrote in a statement about an incident that occurred where anti-immigration protesters surrounded bus loads of immigrants, comparing the incident to a KKK rally that was thought of in much the same fashion. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter responded by calling the cardinal a “moral showoff.”

The letter from Smolich to the 12 Republicans and 31 Democrats wast an effort to appeal to the Catholic faith of the House members who were educated by the Jesuits in their schooling years. Smolich said that the Jesuits have been deeply involved in Central America for many years and he reminded them of atrocities the U.S. committed in the past to the Central American people, which are still heavily influential on the people even today.