Though the situation on both sides of the border is "overwhelming," Cahill emphasized Pope St. John Paul II's exhortation to pray for the family- not just one's own family, but for the holiness and wellbeing of all families.
"The experience of being on the border and listening to people's stories- and these are regular people- is that the family is always the forefront," he said.
"I want to pray for the family unit, that we protect mothers and fathers and children, and that they can be together. And that's what I noticed here on the border, a lot of economic forces, a lot of things challenging keeping the family together."
Seitz said at the press conference that it is unusual to have so many bishops gathered together around one particular theme outside of the regular bishops' meeting. The special focus of the visit, he said, is on farm workers.
"They're a quiet reality that have been passing through El Paso, staying in El Paso, moving out from El Paso for many decades here," Seitz said.
Seitz said the visit was designed to allow those who had not visited the border area before a chance to get a feel for the area, and a border situation that is "changing every day."
The Mass coincided with a vote taken in Congress Wednesday to block President Donald Trump's emergency declaration at the southern border, which is designed to divert funds from other projects to build a wall on the border with Mexico. The president is expected to veto Congress' action.
On Tuesday the bishops visited Ciudad Juarez to visit a large aid facility, as well as a visit to Corpus Christi parish, which is largely serving farm workers and their families. On Thursday, the bishops plan to take a visit to Hatch, New Mexico to meet farmers there who grow and pick the valley's world famous chilis.
The bishops also met with groups of Central American migrants in Ciudad Juarez who had been waiting in Mexico for a chance to cross the border.
"It's devastating to see that these dreams that they have, dreams that my own parents had as immigrants to the United States from Mexico some 60 years ago, and people continue with those dreams," said Bishop Oscar Cantu of San Jose, formerly bishop of Las Cruces.
"We know that they're coming not to take advantage of this wonderful, generous country, but rather to have an opportunity to work and to raise their families in safety and dignity."
(Story continues below)
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According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, apprehensions of "unaccompanied alien children" has risen by nearly 75% from May 2018 to May 2019. The rise in apprehensions is led by El Paso, which has seen a 323% rise in that period.
The rise in apprehensions of families is higher- 463% across the board. El Paso's rate of apprehension of families rose 2,100%.
Bishop John Stowe of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, formerly a priest of the diocese of El Paso, praised the work of Catholics in the diocese working to welcome migrants.
"The Diocese of El Paso has given an example for the whole country of how to welcome immigrants, how to love immigrants, how to clothe immigrants, how to provide shelter to immigrants, how to treat them as brothers and sisters and receive them here,"
The Department of Homeland Security announced new Migrant Protection Protocols in January, providing that migrants arriving illegally or without proper documentation "may be returned to Mexico and wait outside of the U.S. for the duration of their immigration proceedings, where Mexico will provide them with all appropriate humanitarian protections for the duration of their stay."
These policies, Stowe noted, have meant that that tens of thousands of migrants are "stuck" on the Mexico side of the border, as asylum claims can take years to process.
"It was just months ago that thousands of people were coming across the border, flooding this city, and they were received in shelters throughout this city by people of faith who reached out. Not only our Catholic Church but other churches in town, reaching out and serving them. That's a beautiful example for the whole country; it's what our nation was founded on, and it's specifically important for our Catholic Church."