Brownsville, Texas, Jul 2, 2018 / 12:24 pm
Seeking to hear the stories of migrants and how they have been affected by U.S. detention policy, a delegation of Catholic bishops is visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week.
“The bishops are visiting here so they can stop, look, talk to people and understand the suffering of many who are amongst us,” said Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas. “It’s part of the purpose of Christian life to talk to people and hear their suffering.”
The bishops’ delegation had a purpose, said Flores. “To talk, to see, because that’s what the Lord shows us… And then respond,” he said, according to the Los Angeles archdiocesan news site Angelus News.
Flores was part of a bishops’ delegation that visited the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, run by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. On Sunday, July 1, the bishops met with Central American migrants hosted at the center.
One man, Pedro Marquez from Intibucá Department in Honduras, spoke of threatening street gangs in his hometown called maras.
“The maras make it impossible to live,” he told Bishop Joseph Bambera of Scranton, Pa. “They tax us to live in our own house, tax us to have a business, and if we don’t pay, we get killed,” he said. Government crackdowns on the gangs seem only to strengthen them.
Marquez took his 11-year-old daughter Yamilet with him during the three-week journey from Honduras. They aimed to take a Greyhound bus to Philadelphia, where they have family members.
Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, said as many as 250 people per day pass through the center, which provides short-term hospitality for families that have been processed by the Department of Homeland Security. The center provides immediate medical assistance, food, clothing and information about how to comply with immigration proceedings. The volunteer-staffed center is located in a rented storefront.