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WASHINGTON— Catholic bishops of the North and Central American region and the Caribbean, who are in charge of the pastoral care of migrants, gathered in San Jose, Costa Rica, June 1-3, 2011. A joint declaration after the meeting was made public June 30. The prelates, representing the bishops’ conferences of the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panamá, Honduras and Guatemala, as well as CELAM (Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Latin America) and CARITAS International gathered to express solidarity and concern over the plight of immigrants in the Hemisphere. They were joined by religious and lay experts on issues of migration.
“We continue to witness great suffering among migrants in our countries and regions, who are the victims of exploitation and abuse from various elements of society (public officials, unscrupulous employers and criminal organizations),” the bishops of the region said in their statement. “We again call upon our governments to take responsibility for the legal protection of migrants, including those searching for work, asylum-seekers, refugees, and victims of human trafficking. We ask for special protection for families, women and children.”
At the meeting, the bishops reflected on a variety of issues, including the increased violence against and kidnapping of migrants by organized crime, the increase in deportations between the United States and Mexico, the tragedy of human trafficking, growing economic inequality, the effects of globalization and the increasing threats to agents of the Pastoral Care of Migrants. They also urged continued support for the recovery of Haiti from the January 2010 earthquake, including putting a stop to deportations of Haitians in irregular situation within their countries.
The bishops made an appeal to their respective governments to change or abolish, “those laws that cause the separation of migrant families, arbitrary detention and threats to life”.
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, of Little Rock, Arkansas, represented the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services at the meeting.
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