October 24, 2018
Media Contact: Janine Walsh
Franciscan Action Network Stands in Solidarity with Migrant Caravan
“Every human person has dignity and the right to seek refuge when threatened with danger”
Washington, DC - The Franciscan Action Network (FAN) stands in solidarity with the migrants fleeing Central America through Mexico in a migrant caravan. Our Franciscan tradition teaches that human beings are created in the very image and likeness of God. Humans represent in a special way God who is Trinity, and therefore we achieve our personal fulfillment in relationship to God and in community rather than in the isolation of individualism.
There has been much political rhetoric around the migrant caravan and we must separate fact from fiction. As a nation of immigrants we should welcome those who are escaping violence and persecution with open arms. Those in the migrant caravan are not gang members or terrorists, in fact many have family members in the United States who are citizens. These people simply want to live with their families free of fear. According to international law, they have a right to seek asylum where they feel safe.
It is with our Franciscan values as our guide that we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters seeking refuge in a safe country. This latest caravan started on October 13th, a group of mostly Honduran migrants embarked on the trip north, fleeing government corruption, extreme poverty, and rampant violence. Traveling together for their own safety, the group has since grown to thousands who seek better conditions in which to live and raise or reunite with their family. This process has been going on for decades. For hundreds of years people have been willing to risk their lives trying to come to America seeking refuge against political and/or economic terrorism in their own countries. These migrants in the caravan are not any different then the Irish who came to America in the 19th century to escape famine and political repression.
Earlier this year, FAN’s Director of Advocacy, Sr. Maria Orlandini, OSF joined a delegation of faith based representatives to Honduras to see first hand the problems the people there are facing. Her experience is invaluable as we know with conviction that cutting aid to these countries would exacerbate the problem and referring to them as ‘terrorists’ could not be further from the truth. As a follow up, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) and SHARE-El Salvador have just published a joint report sharing the findings of the faith solidarity delegation to Honduras in May.
“It was quite powerful and energizing to feel the commitment of the group [of delegates] and their willingness to share their stories. [The Honduran people] were so grateful we were there, and at the same time watchful to see the reaction of the authorities. Padre Melo [Jesuit priest and human rights advocate] and others have received death threats. We were invited...to be their shields and protect them from the police and military reprisal. After one of the mobilizations, they were so afraid the police would run after them.” - Sr. Maria Orlandini from her blog post describing her visit earlier this year.
It is also important to acknowledge the role that US policy has played in contributing to the current crisis and cycle of violence and poverty. This has played out over decades no matter political affiliation. The termination of many countries’ Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and the recent “Zero Tolerance” policy have increased deportations and the separation of families, making for an even more desperate situation which, in turn, has fueled the caravans. Instead of demonizing these people, we must find ways to support and welcome them as children of God.
The Franciscan Action Network will continue to raise awareness and advocate for the Honduran people, migrants, and those in the caravan. Each and every human person has dignity and the right to seek refuge when threatened with danger to themselves and their children. As Franciscans, we continue to advocate with our sisters and brothers in need and speak out against rhetoric and policies that harm, threaten, and divide us.
Inspired by the Gospel of Jesus, and the example of Saints Francis and Clare, the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) is a collective Franciscan voice seeking to transform United States public policy related to peace making, care for creation, poverty, and human rights. For more information: https://franciscanaction.org/