WASHINGTON (October 2, 2006)—A delegation of Catholic bishops will visit U.S.-Mexico border regions in Arizona and Texas, October 23-29, to study the situation of unaccompanied minors in U.S. custody due to the lack of proper immigration status. Their purpose is to inform the bishops' advocacy efforts and services on behalf of this population, as well as to address the plight of victims of human trafficking.
The bishops will visit the diocese of Tucson, Arizona, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the Diocese of El Paso, Texas.
The visit is under the auspices of the Committee on Migration of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The members of the delegation are Bishop Gerald R Barnes of San Bernardino, Chairman of the Migration Committee, Bishop Armando X. Ochoa of El Paso, and Auxiliary Bishop Jaime Soto of Orange, California, representing the Board of Directors of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC). Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, a member of the Board of Trustees of Catholic Relief Service (CRS), will participate in the Tucson portion of the trip.
The bishops plan to explore the potential for developing and strengthening the Church's cross-border collaboration on behalf of unaccompanied minors and human trafficking victims. They seek to bring attention to the plight of these vulnerable populations and to the Church's social and pastoral concern for their welfare.
The delegation will meet with a broad cross-section of agencies and individuals involved with or knowledgeable of these populations to gain insights and to understand their needs. The bishops will also meet with Church officials, government officials, community-based organizations, and others. Programs established to serve these officials will also be visited. Particular attention will be paid to potential areas of collaboration between Church programs and others in Mexico and the United States.