January 9, 2019 – As public debate ensues over issues at our border, JRS/USA calls on policymakers to affirm the dignity of those caught in the midst of this debate. We must remember that people who are forcibly displaced are our brothers and sisters and deserve the right to seek safety and security.
JRS works with forcibly displaced people in 52 countries around the world including the United States, and we recognize this inherent dignity in all of the people we serve.
Our work includes accompanying, serving, and advocating for individuals coming to the border of the United States. Most of these individuals coming to the border are fleeing from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala which constitute the world’s most dangerous region outside of a war zone. These countries are struggling with violence, organized crime, corruption, militarization, and political repression. Many people in these countries are being targeted for their political beliefs, while others are being exploited and forcibly recruited by gangs. Sending these people back to their home countries places them at risk of persecution, violence, and sometimes death.
JRS Mexico – a team of lawyers, psychologists, social workers, and Jesuits with operations in Mexico City, Comalapa, and Tapachula – have been working to respond to the needs of those who have fled from the Northern Triangle as they travel through or seek asylum in Mexico. They work with individuals like Ricardo, a 22-year-old Honduran migrant JRS encountered in Mexico.
Ricardo left Honduras because of the frequent crime, lack of jobs, and to find better opportunities for his family. “The gangs have become more violent and they charge us war taxes. They’ll come to your place of business or even stop you on the streets and demand money. And, if you don’t pay them, they’ll kill you. It’s difficult to live in peace! The truth is, the poor have no money to survive or even feed ourselves … how are we supposed to feed our children?” Ricardo told JRS.
As the Holy Father said in 2017, “in the social and civil context as well, I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges. To not respond to evil with evil. To defeat evil with good, the offense with forgiveness.”
JRS/USA appeals to policymakers to heed Pope Francis’s words and recognize the dignity of those seeking security in the United States like Ricardo.