Toolkit for Advocating for the Rights of Unaccompanied Children

08-01-2014

Since 2011, the number of unaccompanied immigrant children making the dangerous journey from Central America to the southern border of the United States has increased more than seven-fold, with arrivals potentially reaching as high as 90,000 children this year. Many of these children, a growing share of whom are girls and under the age of 12, are fleeing pervasive and targeted violence in their home countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

The “Toolkit for Advocating for the Rights of Unaccompanied Children and Families Fleeing Central America” was developed to enable individuals at universities, high schools, parishes and other ministries to engage their faith congregation or campus, government representatives and local community members in the issue from a faith-based perspective grounded in human dignity.

The toolkit is titled “The Kingdom of Heaven Belongs to Such As These,” in light of a biblical passage cited by former Jesuit Conference president Fr. Thomas Smolich, S.J., in his appeal to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and other Jesuit school alumni serving in Congress, encouraging them to uphold the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of human life in policy decisions regarding the disposition of children fleeing horrific violence in Central America.

In the letter Fr. Smolich said, “I ask you, as a leader, a parent, and a Catholic, to uphold an American tradition of which we are all proud. We must welcome the refugee, the victim of trafficking, the child who has been abused or abandoned. Let us follow in the footsteps of Jesus when he said “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).”