WASHINGTON (October 17, 2006) – Concerned about the plight of vulnerable migrant children making the dangerous trek to the United States alone and victims of human trafficking enslaved for profit, a delegation of Catholic bishops will visit U.S.-Mexico border regions next week.
Under the auspices of the Committee on Migration of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), three bishops will travel to Arizona and Texas, October 23-29, to take a closer look at the situation of unaccompanied minors and human trafficking victims.
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 find ways to expand and strengthen the Church's social and pastoral concern for their welfare.
Members of the delegation—Most Reverend Gerald R. Barnes, Bishop of San Bernardino, Calif., Chairman of the USCCB Migration Committee, Most Reverend Armando Ochoa, Bishop of El Paso, Texas, member of the USCCB Migration Committee and Most Reverend Jaime Soto, Auxiliary Bishop of Orange, Calif., representing the Board of Directors of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC)—will visit the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the Diocese of El Paso, Texas.
The bishops have long been troubled by the dangers underage migrants face in transit, particularly those traveling alone, and of the scourge of modern day slavery -- human trafficking.
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. Particular attention will be paid to potential areas of collaboration between Church programs and others in Mexico and the United States.
A delegation member will chronicle the visit on a live blog where interviews and photos will also be available. The blog will be accessible through www.justiceforimmigrants.org.