A photo editorial
Nine days before the United States celebrated Independence Day, a photo from our southern border stirred emotions and debate about the kind of nation we are 243 years after our founding.
“This image cries to heaven for justice,” wrote two leaders of the Catholic bishops in the U.S. after the above photo appeared on news programs and was widely shared on social media.
“Who can look on this picture and not see the results of the failures of all of us to find a humane and just solution to the immigration crisis,” asked the leaders — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.
“Sadly, this picture shows the daily plight of our brothers and sisters,” they continued. “Not only does their cry reach heaven. It reaches us. And it must now reach our federal government,” the bishops said in a statement. “We can and must remain a country that provides refuge for children and families fleeing violence, persecution and acute poverty. All people, regardless of their country of origin or legal status, are made in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect.”
When The Catholic Post, after considering the shocking nature of the photo, shared it and the bishops’ comments on our Facebook site, the reaction was swift and — like our United States — divided on the topic of illegal immigration.
“Encouraging illegal immigration causes these tragedies shown in this picture,” was one of more than 75 comments generated. “America’s laws are good and generous. Follow them.”
“This is a terrible tragedy. Where’s the compassion and empathy from many of these commenters? Mary, Joseph and Jesus were refugees,” wrote another.
While we pray for wise and rapid political solutions, we hopefully can find common ground that migrant children should be treated with care and kindness. Catholic Charities USA is accepting donations online to help its agencies along the U.S. border with Mexico meet the basic needs of immigrant children and their families.
“It is extremely painful to learn how much these people have suffered to get this far, and we remain steadfast in providing assistance at the border,” said Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.
If you agree with our church leaders that “we can and must remain a country that provides refuge for children and families fleeing violence,” learn more and consider making a donation at catholiccharitiesusa.org/border-crisis. — Thomas J. Dermody