Caritas in the USA ramping up response to help migrants on the US-Mexico border

Catholic Charities USA (our member in the United States of America) is ramping up its response to help migrants on the US-Mexico border following a massive influx in new arrivals.

CCUSA is deploying 200 sisters from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to the border to help Catholic Charities agencies support the migrants. Extra medical teams are also being sent to help CCUSA agencies along the border take care of migrants who are ill due to COVID-19.

The agency is working closely with the US government and Sr Donna Markham, president of Catholic Charities USA, recently met with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss how CCUSA can better help COVID positive migrants along the border.

Migrants walk for months, sometimes, bare feet to search for better life. Photo by Worms/Caritas

During a recent trip to a Catholic Charities respite centre for migrants in San Diego, Sr Donna Markham, said,

“The people I saw had been in detention for eight to 10 days, sleeping on concrete with no access to showers and no way to change their clothes.”

Catholic Charities respite centres offer migrants a place to sleep, clean clothes, a shower and food for a couple of days while they connect them up with any family they may have in the USA. They then buy them a ticket to reunite with family members.

Many of the migrants entering the USA are fleeing poverty, violence and the effects of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, in Central America. They often arrive in the US exhausted, frightened and traumatised.

“Just the experience of getting clean clothes and having a clean room with their families can be wonderful after the time they spend traveling and then in the detention centre,” said Sr Donna Markham.

The numbers of unaccompanied children detained by border police may have dropped by 88 percent in recent months, but concerns about their treatment in detention has been ongoing for a number of years. The plight of unaccompanied migrant children is of particular concern for Catholic Charities.

Just recently, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Antonio in Texas set up over 2,000 beds so they could welcome and care for unaccompanied migrant children. Some Catholic Charities also help set up foster care.

In a recent statement on unaccompanied children, CCUSA urged the US government to take into consideration the desperate circumstances that make migrants leave their countries and to treat all migrants humanely. Read the statement here.

Catholic Charities USA comprises 167 member agencies working to serve and advocate for the rights of the poor and the marginalised across the USA. The vast network gives Catholic Charities the opportunity to work closely with authorities to reunite migrants – especially unaccompanied children – with their families.

In 2020, Catholic Charities agencies provided over 160,000 migrants with shelter and respite care.


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