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ELCA Presiding Bishop Addresses Well-Being of Children in Detention Centers

ELCA Presiding Bishop Addresses Well-Being of Children in Detention Centers


Children coming to our nation for safety and protection are still dying at our southern border while in U.S. detention.

Carlos, a 16-year-old youth from Guatemala, died May 20 in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Wilmer, a 2-year-old, died May 14, also in the custody of CBP. They were preceded in death by Jackelin, Felipe, Juan and a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador who died in September 2018 but whose death has just been disclosed. One year ago, Claudia Patricia Gómez González, a 20-year-old woman from Guatemala, was shot in the head and killed by a Border Patrol agent while seeking safety in the United States.

I am deeply dismayed by the deaths of these children, made in the image of God, who came to our southern border as refugees and asylum seekers to ask us for protection. As a nation we denied them that safety, instead placing them in detention facilities, sometimes for months.

Our nation and its leaders have moral and legal obligations on behalf of those who seek safety in our land. As Congress considers federal funding for DHS, we advocate against further funds for immigration detention, deportation, and border militarization, and oppose intentional policy choices that harm children and families.

We follow a Lord who instructed, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs" (Matthew 19:14). As we continue to serve and love our neighbor, we pray for the well-being of children and families in detention, and we urge the presidential administration to seek alternatives to the detention of children.

In Christ,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop, ELCA


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Robert Johnson
New York, NY
6/6/2019 11:04 AM

  What kind of a person doesn't mourn the death of a child? What kind of parent would allow a child to trek north to the United States without them or worse collect a fee to rent the child to someone knowing the USA is sympathic. What about the American children who are brutalized by Central Americans, can we pray for them as well? Recently in Alabama 27-year-old Mexican citizen Amancio Martinez was arrested for illegally re-entering the country via the southern border and sexual intercourse with the juvenile victim “by forcible compulsion (RAPE), he had previously been deported after being arrested for drug trafficing. This week in North Carolina illegal aliens; teenagers Allan Rafael Cardenas and Jose Kevin Ortiz-Torres were arrested after police said they allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl at a local park. These are just 2 recent examples of the hundreds of assaults this year committed by illegal immigrants. Please let me repeat that I have great compassion for those people around the world who are suffering from war, gang violence, unemployment and more. Daniel Speckhard President of Lutheran World Relief has been working in Central America in efforts to help these countries in their country. He stated "organized crime and extreme violence that has bedeviled these countries has been a key driver in migration to the United States. In the case of El Salvador, these gangs, such as MS-13 were formed in the USA and exported back to Central America by deported Salvadoran members." They were deported for violent crime and drug trafficing and distrubution. Drugs that kill American children. Did Mr. Speckhard or Bishop Eaton's family just walk into America? My guess is like my own family the immigrantion was done through the legal method. There are thousands of people with relatives in America from Ireland, Italy,India and others that wait and respect the laws of our nation. If the laws need to be changed then call your elected official and tell them to get to work on it