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
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