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.
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.