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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Sisters of Charity: U.S. has moral obligation to asylum-seekers

  • The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth have joined an effort that includes 300 faith-based organizations across the U.S. in lobbying the federal government to provide protection for Central American children fleeing "escalating violence, conflict and exploitation."
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  • The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth have joined an effort that includes 300 faith-based organizations across the U.S. in lobbying the federal government to provide protection for Central American children fleeing "escalating violence, conflict and exploitation."
    Last week, the SCL aligned with 40 national faith organizations and 269 regional and local groups from 42 states represented in a letter to President Barack Obama and U.S. Congressional members.
    The letter advocates for protections for thousands of children fleeing dangers in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
    The letter, according to a news release, "urges" the president and Congress to "protect unaccompanied children," and comes at a time when Congress is considering "rolling back critical legal protections" for the refugees.
    "We strongly object to proposals to detain families with children and any move to roll back the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act in order to effect expeditious deportations," according to the letter.
    "Forcibly and hurriedly returning people in need of international protection back to the dangerous situations they fled without adequate due process would undermine our obligations under international law and our position as a global humanitarian leader and would be a moral disgrace."
    The letter lays out policy recommendations for Congress and the president's administration, and calls for strengthening the humanitarian response in the U.S.; legal counsel for all unaccompanied children; cost-effective, community-based alternatives to detention; adequate services for children, refugees and all groups under the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement; and no roll backs to the provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 relating to unaccompanied children.
    The faith groups are also urging the U.S. government to address "root causes" of the situations children face in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
    The letter is roughly three pages and is signed by the hundreds of faith-based advocates. It follows a petition that's been signed by more than 4,400 "people of faith" that was hand delivered to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnston.
    "We respectfully ask that you consider the steps … to address the needs of Central Americans fleeing harm in a just, effective, compassionate and comprehensive manner," according to the letter.
    "The U.S. must embrace its moral and legal obligations to asylum-seekers, many of which are women and children, who have arrived at our borders seeking protection. A policy of 'sealing' borders and housing vulnerable people in jail-like conditions will not dissuade people who are fleeing for their lives and seeking safety. These policies instead risk driving desperate people into even more dangerous circumstances and inflicting more pain upon those already suffering."

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