Bishops from three Anglican Provinces have called for “solidarity” from the Anglican Communion as a caravan of migrants makes its way through the region from El Salvador to the US. The plight of the people making the journey has been reported around the world after US President Donald Trump said that he had mobilised the military to prevent them crossing the American border. Bishops from Honduras, in the US-based Episcopal Church; Guatemala and El Salvador in the Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America; and North and South East Mexico, in the La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico, have responded to the situation in a joint letter.
In their letter, they say that, in the name of God, they are using their voice and position “in a call of solidarity to the authorities of Central America, Mexico and the USA, United Nations and civil leadership with respect to the caravan of people who are travelling towards the United States in search of opportunities of decent work”.
They describe it as “a new exodus” of “a marginalised people, enslaved in their respective countries through a reality of social and moral, neo-liberal economic sin which takes away their lives with injustices and violations of their human rights. They are a people of faith in God, who He has promised to ‘care for and accompany’”.
President Trump has been vocal in his opposition to the caravan, which has been a hot-topic issue in the US midterm elections. “Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border. Many more troops coming”, he Tweeted. “We will NOT let these Caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our Border is sacred, must come in legally. TURN AROUND!”
And in another Tweet he said: “The Caravans are made up of some very tough fighters and people. Fought back hard and viciously against Mexico at Northern Border before breaking through. Mexican soldiers hurt, were unable, or unwilling to stop”.
But in their letter, the bishops appealed for more compassion to be shown towards those on the journey. “As God always hears the cry of his people, the Churches do the same and we cry out for the weak and most vulnerable”, they said. “For example, in this new Exodus, many are girls and boys, young people, women and men, victims of death threats, victims of unemployment, victims of irresponsible governments which are indifferent to the needs of their inhabitants.”
They say that the movement of people has been a permanent part of history, and that the caravans draw attention to the crisis of migration and the difficulties in their countries of origin.
“In this context we remember the forum on migration which was held in San Salvador, which affirmed that these people: “are in principal good and many have been victim of death threats, of hard conditions of vulnerable social and economical conditions; others have been victims of violence of either gangs or the agents of state of their countries of origin.”
They say that the people in the caravans have nothing except for “the gift of life and their hope in their faith in God”, and add: “For them, in the name of Christ and Saint Romero, we request the solidarity of the authorities of the countries on their route and destination” to recognise their dignity and human rights; for a just humanitarian reception; for reasonable opportunities to identify options to legalise their transit and accommodation in the countries of destination, whether that be the US, Mexico or Canada.
They also call for programmes to be created to cater for the needs of migrants and those who request refuge and asylum – with support from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration.
They complete their list with a call for a guarantee for “the special protection for children, adolescents and family unity” and that the migrants be “provided with the basic necessities of food, healthcare safety and security”.
And they include a call to the Anglican Communion “for solidarity with this tragedy”, saying: “we urge the unity of Christians to create a culture of hospitality, we call to the governments of the Northern Triangle to work to generate conditions for the development of human life in our countries, but above all we demand the migration is not criminalised because migration is a human right and nobody is illegal within the creation of God. We ask that they try peaceful means with dialogue, mediation and pro-humanitarian principals.”
The letter was signed by Archbishop Julio Murray, Primate of Central America and Bishop of Panama, Archbishop Francisco Moreno, Primate of Mexico and Bishop of Northern Mexico, Bishop Lloyd Allen from Honduras; Bishop Juan David Alvarado from El Salvador; Bishop Silvestre Romero from Guatemala; Bishop Benito Juarez from South East Mexico.
image: Jose Cabezas / Reuters