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Catholic Extension issues statement on mistreatment of migrants in El Paso

“Lady Liberty is embarrassed.”

In the last few days, the U.S. government has given a new interpretation to the meaning of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty for migrants entering our country, seeking legal asylum under U.S. law. After being held for days in detention with little to eat or drink and insufficient medical attention, these people are abandoned in the middle of the night on the streets of El Paso.

Over Christmas, hundreds of people, who entered the United States through legal channels, were transported to the middle of the city and released to fend for themselves—exhausted, hungry, penniless, homeless and without support. This treatment is a travesty and does not represent what Lady Liberty stands for.

We are thankful that in this hour of need another “lady” has stepped in to help: Holy Mother Church.

Catholic Extension has long supported Catholic ministries at the border, including those in the Diocese of El Paso, that are working around the clock to welcome and offer hospitality to migrants by providing food, shelter, comfort, and advocacy. Now more than ever, with record numbers of people coming, these ministries are critical.

Many of these people arrive with their families, having traveled for weeks with young children in tow, sometimes carrying them along the way. When they arrive, they need us. They need us, the Church, to affirm their humanity and ours.

Today more than 500 people are expected to be released in El Paso, making it the largest single-day release to date. Let’s greet them in the spirit of Lady Liberty’s message:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

In this Christmas season, let us not forget that we all personally know at least one migrant family fleeing violence: The Holy Family. The Christ child fled to Egypt with his parents to escape the violence of King Herod, and we have our opportunity today to help Christ, who we encounter in the faces of the poor and vulnerable asylum-seekers.

Catholic Extension is asking for donations to its Family Reunification Fund to “help to treat people in the spirit of Lady Liberty and the spirit of the Gospel.” For more information visit http://www.catholicextension.org/stories/family-reunification-fund.

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About Catholic Extension: Catholic Extension builds churches and the Church in America’s poorest places. Since its founding in 1905, Catholic Extension has distributed more than $1.2 billion in today’s dollars to dioceses and parishes that cannot support themselves. Catholic Extension provides funding and resources for church buildings, leaders and ministries to build up and strengthen Catholic faith communities and unleash the transformative power of faith. For more information, please visit www.catholicextension.org.

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