Office of Government Relations

A Faithful Response to the Caravan: Five Things to Know

October 26, 2018
Office of Government Relations

On Saturday, Oct. 14th a migrant caravan departed from San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Since then, it has been moving through Guatemala towards Mexico. The media has reported that the groups include families, women and children. Below are five things to know about the current caravan.

1. Most of the individuals in the caravan are asylum seekers and are fleeing dangerous and unstable conditions. 

  • Individuals from Central America experience human rights abuses, gang violence, extreme poverty and hunger, and their governments are often unable or unwilling to protect them and provide for their well-being. These situations are why parents and individuals chose to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere.
  • According to the Department of Homeland Security of the several hundred members of the April 2018 caravan who requested protection, 95 percent were found to have a credible fear of persecution and were referred for a full hearing in the immigration courts.

2. It is legal to seek asylum.

  • The U.S. has a responsibility to respond to those seeking asylum in a humanitarian way that complies with international law. Deterring asylum seekers or turning them back is unlawful and inhumane.  
  • We have systems in place to process asylum seekers and assess their claims. Everyone who seeks asylum deserves a chance to go through our nation’s asylum determination process and have their case heard.
  • A person who seeks asylum must prove he or she has “credible fear” of persecution in his or her home country. The test is the first step in an asylum claim and could allow a migrant to remain in the U.S. pending a court date.

3. We must address the conditions forcing people to flee.

  • The U.S. must commit to advancing policies and aid that will uplift Central Americans and allow them to live safe and prosperous lives.
  • The U.S. will be best served by working with foreign governments, the international community, and other partners to ensure that all governments protect human rights, ensure the rule of law, protect people from violence, and allow them to live in safety.

4. Detention and harsh forms of deterrence are not the solution. Compassion – not brutality – will help people fleeing violence now and prevent others from needing to flee.

  • When someone fears for their life or the lives of their family members, cruel tactics like detention or family separation will not work. We should respond in an orderly, sensible, and compassionate manner to these families.
  • There are several models for alternatives to detention that are less costly, more humane, and have high compliance rates with court hearings. We encourage members of Congress and the Administration to rely on solutions that do not further traumatize asylum seekers and that do not expand the immigration or family detention center system.

5. The Episcopal Church urges upholding rational and compassionate asylum and protection systems. 

  • Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry wrote, “What is the Christian way to manage borders? Strength does not require cruelty. Indeed, cruelty is a response rooted in weakness. Jesus was clear about what true strength is and it always is driven by love. There may be many policy prescriptions, but the prism through which we view them should be the same: does the policy treat people with love, acknowledging our common humanity? If the answer is no, it is not a Christian solution.”
  • While we must ensure that those who wish to do harm here or those who are smuggling drugs or trafficking human beings are stopped, the Episcopal Church believes that border enforcement and detention policies must not come at the detriment to human life or our legal obligations to those seeking protection.
  • General Convention policies urge the U.S government to extend the protection of asylum to vulnerable persons and to uphold due process for those seeking to claim asylum.

What can you do?

Tell your member of Congress to uphold asylum protections.

Pray for all those fleeing danger around the world. Hold a Refugee Sunday

Learn more

The Office of Government Relations