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Campaign Stories
  Central American migration: areas of concern
  Detention adds to trauma of families seeking asylum
  Faith groups urge Congress not to undermine protections for children and families
  God knocked on my door again
  Jesuit recommendations for smart responses to increased migration from Central America
  Jesuits reiterate call for immigration reform
  Jesuits respond to Supreme Court decision on immigration law
  JRS and Jesuit universities identify legal challenges facing Central American asylum seekers
  JRS report highlights abuses against Central American migrants in Mexico
  JRS, Georgetown Law teach students about asylum
  KBI is a response to the call of Christ
  Kino Border Initiative expands on pastoral care
  Kino Border Initiative serves a need
  National Religious Leaders to President Obama: Don’t Trade Kids' Lives in Immigration Action
  NGOs recommend Department of Homeland Security take steps to improve complaint processing
  Preserve Due Process Protections for Unaccompanied Children Fleeing Harm
  Safer deportation practices are a moral imperative
  Serving others at the Kino Border Initiative
  Spotlight on immigration policy
  Take Action: Say NO to the SAFE Act
  Treat Central American Asylum Seekers with Dignity and Fairness
  U.S. urged to offer 'compassionate and sustainable' response to humanitarian crisis in Central America
  Univ of Scranton Arrupe award to Kino Border Initiative
  Video: Broken immigration system breaks families
  Video: Kino Border Initiative
  Video: Kino Border Initiative
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Currently, most unaccompanied minors detained by Border Patrol agents are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services, which coordinates their care and provides an opportunity for children to tell their story to an adult they can trust. As part of his response to the increase in the number of children arriving at the border, President Obama asked Congress to consider weakening the TVPRA in order to fast-track deportations of children. (Customs and Border Patrol)

(Washington, D.C.) July 30, 2014 — The Society of Jesus in the United States (the Jesuit order) is making a personal plea to the 43 Congressional representatives who graduated from U.S. Jesuit high schools and colleges to "uphold the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of human life" when considering policy solutions to address the influx of children fleeing violence in Central America.

In a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner (a Xavier University alumnus), copied to Jesuit alumni in Congress, Fr. Thomas H. Smolich S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference, called on Congress to uphold the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA). 

Currently, most unaccompanied minors detained by Border Patrol agents are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services, which coordinates their care and provides an opportunity for children to tell their story to an adult they can trust. As part of his response to the increase in the number of children arriving at the border, President Obama asked Congress to consider weakening the TVPRA in order to fast-track deportations of children. Now, House leadership is seeking to change the law, which would allow a single Border Patrol agent to render a deportation decision and quickly deport a child back to his or her home country.

Fr. Smolich said that a change to the TVPRA, "would result in children having a one-shot chance to disclose their persecution to a Customs and Border Protection agent or officer…"  Fr. Smolich called any attempt to dilute TVPRA "inhumane and an insult to American values," particularly since some children might have been "victimized by armed men in uniform."

The letter also asked Speaker Boehner and Congressional alumni of Jesuit institutions to protect the due process rights of vulnerable children and examine the root causes leading children to flee in unprecedented numbers. 

"This is not a new crisis, nor is it primarily at our border. Rather it has been escalating over the last decade…90 children are murdered or disappeared in Honduras every month," said Fr. Smolich, who also reminds Speaker Boehner that “this is the equivalent of eight children being executed in your Congressional district every thirty days."

Recalling the assassination of six Jesuits in El Salvador nearly 25 years ago, Fr. Smolich emphasized the Jesuits' commitment to working with fellow Jesuits and lay partners in Central America, who live the reality of widespread violence. They see “the elementary school teacher murdered when he tried to prevent gangs from forcibly recruiting his students; the young girl pulled from her home, offered as a birthday present to a gang leader and then raped by 16 men; lay colleagues of Jesuits assassinated and harassed by the police.”

Fr. Smolich closed his letter by asking the Speaker and his fellow Jesuit alumni in Congress to "uphold an American tradition" of welcoming "the refugee, the victim of trafficking, the child who has been abused or abandoned."


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