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“Migrants are Not Criminals” Says Jesuit Network Responding to Caravan

BY ISN STAFF | October 16, 2018

“Migrants are not criminals,” sums up the message of the Jesuit Migration Network of Central America (Red Jesuita Con Migrantes Centroamérica) and other Catholic partners in Central America whom issued a statement today regarding the caravan of at least 1,500 people who left San Pedro Sula, Honduras, seeking refuge from violence and economic poverty in their home country with an end goal of seeking asylum in the United States.

Yolanda González, a coordinator of the Jesuit Migration Network of Central and North America, welcomes delegates from across the region as the network meeting began earlier this week.

The Jesuit Migration Network of Central America issued the statement in the midst of an annual meeting with migration partners from the United States and Canada, taking place in San Salvador, El Salvador. They called on governments in the region to fulfill “their responsibility to guarantee the fundamental rights of migrants in transit and provide a comprehensive and humanitarian solution.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump responded with harsh words for the caravan and Honduras via Twitter, saying that he would cut foreign aid to the country if the caravan was not stopped and brought back to Honduras. He followed up later in the day with an additional tweet where he also threatened El Salvador and Guatemala, saying that all payments to the countries [including Honduras] would be stopped if their citizens participated in the caravan or if they allowed the caravan to traverse through their countries. If both instances, he suggested that the caravan members would be entering the U.S. illegally, but reports suggest that the migrants will seek asylum if they make it to the U.S.-Mexico border, a legal claim that can be made at any formal U.S. immigration control point.

The Jesuit Migration Network of Central America is part of a larger network that serves all of Latin America and the Caribbean, seeking to provide effective, coordinated, and comprehensive assistance to migrants, displaced persons, and refugees from very diverse areas: pastoral, educational, social, research, etc. In the United States, participation comes from Jesuit universities, high schools, parishes, and social ministries.

“It was powerful to be discussing the situation of those participating in the caravan with colleagues from Central America who know the day-to-day reality in a country like Honduras,” said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, who attended the Jesuit Migration Network meeting which brought together partners from Canada all the way to Panama. “However, it saddened me to hear President Trump’s attack on the migrants and their home countries—cutting aid and degrading our neighbor countries does nothing to respond to the harsh realities in the region,” continued Kerr. “Instead, we need to see their reality tied up in our own and develop comprehensive approaches that seek to honor the dignity of those who migrate and those who remain.”

The full statement of the Jesuit Migration Network and other partners can be found below in English and in Spanish here.

Statement In Response to the Spontaneous Caravan of Individuals, Mothers and Honduran Families

Red Jesuita Con Migrantes Centroamérica, Misioneros de San Carlos Scalabrinianos, Casa del Migrante Guatemala, Casa del Migrante Tecún Umán, and Casa del Migrante El Salvador

The fact that over 2,000 people, including men, women, families with children, teenagers and the elderly, are taking their few belongings and fleeing their country through a long and dangerous route, speaks to us as human beings, governments, international organizations and as a region. They do not cease to be the face of the multiple crises that haunt the region.

Honduras is still in a widespread political and security crisis due to the deterioration of living conditions and governability following the coup d’état that was carried out in 2009 and the electoral fraud of 2017. No special attention was paid to this, despite its disastrous consequences being reported.

The human caravan in Honduras was set in motion immediately after the Central American governments made a visit to the United States and were unable to secure the care and protection of their fellow countrymen in that country or to advocate for a more humane treatment based on minimum international standards of protection.

The response of the regional governments is to defend their own national security, despite the fact that both Guatemala and Mexico have migration codes that defend the human right to migrate and that the CA-4 Free Mobility Agreement should be respected for the benefit of all Hondurans. All this is happening in the face of the upcoming global and continental meeting for a new migratory agreement that would help understand and propose comprehensive solutions to the global migrant and refugee crisis.

Faced with this emergency situation:

  • We demand that the countries, the media, and society in general not CRIMINALIZE migrants or the humanitarian work carried out by individuals, groups and shelters;
  • We DEMAND that governments assume their responsibility to guarantee the fundamental rights of migrants in transit and provide a comprehensive and humanitarian solution to the specific needs of the migrant population;
  • We urge national and international human rights organizations to be part of a comprehensive and humanitarian solution that guarantees the fundamental rights of Honduran migrants;
  • We request that a differentiated treatment be given to migrant children and adolescents, as well as to women and senior citizens, in accordance with the specific international protection standards in the matter;
  • We remind the State of Guatemala that it should comply with the right to asylum of those who require it, as well as guarantee the principle of non-refoulement (international law which forbids a country receiving asylum seekers from returning them to a country in which they would be in likely danger of persecution based on “race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion);
  • We are pleased by the solidarity demonstrations by the communities of Honduras and Guatemala and encourage others to follow the example of opening hearts and homes to welcome migrants with love and hospitality.

Migrants are not criminals. They migrate in search of the life and well-being to which all of us have a right.

Red Jesuita Con Migrantes Centroamérica
Misioneros de San Carlos Scalabrinianos
Casa del Migrante Guatemala
Casa del Migrante Tecún Umán
Casa del Migrante El Salvador


5 replies
  1. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    Illegal immigrants do not have rights in the U.S.A. Why aren’t you working for rights in their own countries?

    • Mariano Correa
      Mariano Correa says:

      Because as a cristian and a us citizen I have the duty and obligations to stand on the side of those who seek justice.

  2. Carol Carlson
    Carol Carlson says:

    Migrants are not criminals!!! They are human beings fleeing violence and poverty in search of a better,safer life for themselves and their families!!! They are legally entitled to seek asylum and we are legally and more importantly have a moral responsibility to hear and help them. If anyone is a criminal in this situation it is Donald Trump! He is ignoring not only our laws regarding asylum, but international laws pertaining to asylum.He lacks all human compassion . We should all be ashamed and horrified by how he is treating other human beings in the name of our country. Anyone who claims to be a Christian should remember “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and “ Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” Stand up against the abhorrent regime of Trump.

    • Mariano
      Mariano says:

      God Bless you Sharon!!! In regard to your question. There are multiple Christian organizations working for the rights of people without voices in those countries. A simple google research will help you and get involved if you want to help.


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