by Maura Bonnarens, Advocacy Liaison-West
USCCB Conference call on Thursday, July 17.
The focus of the call was regarding families that are crossing the border. The USCCB has initiated a pilot program for families that either have no relatives in the US or have relatives but the relatives are unable to support them. The trend by border patrol over the past few weeks has been to detain families in contracted facilities. Currently there are two of these. One is in Artesia, NM. The other is near Reading, PA. Visitation to these facilities is regulated. Anyone that may be interested in reaching out to the families at these facilities can contact Heather Chester of USCCB at email@example.com. Rather than have them go to detention facilities, which in the past has caused many lasting negative issues for the families, USCCB would like to identify “people of good will” who are willing to house these families. It may be one family who would like to house one other family, or perhaps a facility that could accommodate more than one family. The commitment to house a family would be likely up to a year. The reason the focus is on families is that unaccompanied children must be in federally approved facilities which involves contracts with child welfare for round the clock structured housing. USCCB is currently piloting this program and it is going well.
Good Samaritan homes would need to be in locations where there is access to immigration attorneys and other support systems for these newly arrived families. If individuals are interested in hosting a family, they can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those that would like to assist in this issue, but are unable to house a family, the best recommendation at this time is to reach out to local Catholic Charities affiliates to see if there are families that have moved to the area that may need assistance. Things like food, clothing, school supplies, etc. are all things that Catholic Charities may need to provide to these families.