Our hearts break at the news of the drowning of a father and his toddler daughter who died while crossing the Rio Grande as they tried to reach a better life in our country. This horrible incident serves as a stark reminder of our broken immigration system and the urgent need for immediate action.
I add my voice to that of Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and other brother bishops in calling on the federal government to hear the cry of the poor and vulnerable. Together, we join with our Holy Father Pope Francis “in immense sadness, having seen the horrific images of Oscar Martinez and his daughter Angie Valeria who drowned in the Rio Grande Valley while attempting to flee persecution and enter the United States. This image cries to heaven for justice. This image silences politics. Who can look upon 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? Sadly, this picture shows the daily plight of our brothers and sisters. Not only does their cry reach heaven, it reaches us. And it must now reach our federal government.
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. Congress has a duty to provide additional funding to address the needs of children in federal custody. Their supplemental appropriations bill should also increase protections for immigrant children, including heightened standards and oversight for border facilities. It is possible and necessary to care for the safety of migrant children and the security of our citizens. By putting aside partisan interests, a nation as great as ours is able to do both."