St. Stephen's is partnering with Catholic Charities to put together welcome kits for the families of young children from Central America who are coming to Texas.
We will meet this Sunday, August 3, at 9:30 a.m. to assemble the kits for distribution in the Valley and in Dallas. We are asking parishioners to provide the following for inclusion in the kits:
- Bottled Water
- Reading materials in Spanish (Bibles, books, workbooks, teen magazines)
- Travel Size Hygiene items/Toiletries (Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash/Bar Soap, Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Brush/Comb, Deodorant)
- Non-perishable food items (easy to open and don't need to heat up)
Money! One of the best ways to help provide material assistance is through donations. Churches near the border have established relationships with retailers that allow them to do bulk purchases of needed items at discounted rates. There is also a need for general support funds. To donate directly to the Diocese of West Texas go here.
Catholic Charities in Houston also has need of Pro Bono Attorneys, bilingual volunteers to interpret and translate. To volunteer as a Pro Bono attorney, please contact Eloy Gardea.
For more information on other volunteer opportunities, please contact Sister Pauline Troncaleat 713.874.6676.
Nurturing and Caring Foster Care Parents Needed:
When refugee and immigrant children arrive in the United States without a parent or loved one to provide the shelter, security and sustenance they deserve, Catholic Charities is one of the agencies that provides specialized foster care services for resettled unaccompanied refugee children. This foster care program for children leaving federal detention facilities is extremely important for children who are:
- Unable to name any family members or appropriate sponsors
- Facing prolonged immigration cases that make their future uncertain
- Hindered from returning to their home country in a timely manner
- Engaged in in-depth interviews or a gradual transition to family reunification
- At risk for and possible victims of trafficking, trauma or torture
Take Action for a Truly Humane Response
It is not too late to let your members of Congress know your feelings about the situation of the migrant children who are coming to the United States from Central America. This week St. Stephen's hosted a press conference where religious leaders from across the Southwest advocated the following:
- That the existing law, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008, which applies to children who arrive at our borders, not be weakened or abrogated. Those who come to us seeking refuge should not be returned to their home countries without being given due process which would assure that they will not be returned to child traffickers or to the hands of those who would murder them. Once deemed safe, the refugees could return to their homes.
- Anyone under the age of eighteen who has survived the perilous trip north must have an attorney, and must never be subjected to expedited processing. These children know they can be killed for speaking out against the gangs, and they have no familiarity with our legal system. To permit the expedited deportation of unrepresented children is unconscionable.
- Those who would meet the religious needs of the children and families must be allowed access to the U.S. Border Patrol detention facilities and religious, human rights and civic groups must be allowed access to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters for unaccompanied minors. Community leaders can and should provide humanitarian support to the overwhelmed detention centers and shelters.
Elie Wiesel reminds us: "Indifference is not a beginning, it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor -- never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees -- not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity we betray our own.
Please call as you are led. The Capitol Switchboard is (202) 224-3121.
If unsure, you can find your Senator go here and member of the House of Representatives here.