Mexico City, Mexico, Dec 17, 2012 / 15:02 pm
A retired Mexican cardinal warned that drug traffickers are leveling death threats against immigrants from Central America to recruit them to carry drugs into the United States.
"There is a new phenomenon in which drug cartels are using (immigrants) to transport drugs to the United States," said Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, retired Archbishop of Guadalajara. "And when they refuse to carry the drugs, they kill them."
"Recently in northern Mexico, more than 60 immigrants were killed," Cardinal Sandoval observed. "This is a very serious problem and requires greater attention from us."
Speaking Dec. 12 at the international "Ecclesia in America" congress at the Vatican, the cardinal also denounced the cruel treatment of immigrants from Central America by Mexican immigration officials.
These officials sometimes rape defenseless women and rob vulnerable immigrants of their money and belongings, he said.
Amid these serious threats to human dignity, he praised the work of the many dioceses and immigrant ministries that have set up shelters along the main routes through the country to provide immigrants with "hot soup, a shower and a bed to sleep in."
Cardinal Sandoval also called for immigration reform in the United States.
"Time and time again promises are made – especially when candidates want votes – to fix the problem," he said.
The Mexican prelate highlighted the plight of immigrants living in the U.S. without documentation.
"Having no legal status exposes them to exploitation and arbitrary wages for the hardest, most humiliating jobs, and to being denounced and run off by their bosses," he explained.
He stressed that it is the task of the Church in the United States "to call for humane legislation for immigrants."