Join me today in praying for compassionate treatment for Central American asylum seekers and for relief to the violence they flee from. My name is Fouad Abou-Rizk, and I am a Catholic who is passionate about international crisis relief. I write Humanitarian Prayers to encourage people to pray for those who are suffering most in our world.
I pray that those fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador will be treated with mercy and compassion. I pray that wherever they go, they will be met by people with resources to help them. I pray that they will not be abused by traffickers on their way to the United States.
I pray that when they come to the U.S. to seek asylum, they will not be treated as criminals under the law, even if they don’t enter the country through a port of entry. I pray that they will not continue to be imprisoned in detention centers. I pray that all parents who have been separated from their children will be quickly reunited with them.
I pray especially for there to be an availability of mental health services to migrants who have been traumatized by their experiences.
I pray that the Trump Administration will adopt much kinder, more compassionate policies towards the treatment of these migrants. I pray that they will be seen and spoken of as a vulnerable population which we have the opportunity to help and care for rather than pests who are coming to do harm.
I pray for comprehensive changes in the countries that these migrants are fleeing from to reduce the harsh climate of poverty, domestic violence, sexual violence, and gang violence. I pray that Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador will be safe and economically viable so that people will not continue to have to flee to sustain their lives.
Notes and Explanations
For years hundreds of thousands of migrants have been fleeing Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to seek asylum in the U.S. An explanation of what an asylum seeker is from the United Nation Nations High Commission on Refugees is below.
When people flee their own country and seek sanctuary in another country, they apply for asylum – the right to be recognized as a refugee and receive legal protection and material assistance. An asylum seeker must demonstrate that his or her fear of persecution in his or her home country is well-founded.
The plight of Central American asylum seekers has been heavily in the news, along with a criticism of the Trump Administration’s policies for their treatment, for months. In May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that children would be separated from their parents at the border if they crossed illegally.
Under this policy, a person could only apply for asylum in the U.S. if they cross at a port of entry (a legitimate border crossing). Adults who crossed the border illegally have been placed in detention centers, essentially prisons.
Though that policy has since long been condemned and struck down by the courts, over 700 children are yet to be reunited with their families, even though the court-ordered deadline for the government to assure that they are reunited elapsed yesterday, July 26th. Over 400 parents of these 711 children are no longer in the United States. It is not clear whether or not they were deported by the government.
In recent years, people have been fleeing Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to escape rampant gang violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, and poverty. The number of asylum seekers and refugees fleeing those three countries reached 294,000 in 2017. Learn more about the violence and poverty that is fueling the migration crisis here.
On June 11th, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that gang violence and domestic violence would no longer be considered valid reasons to claim asylum by the U.S. government, shutting down the possibilities for most of these migrants to win the right to stay in the U.S. as an asylum seeker.