Catholic Leader Decries Opening of Family Detention Center in Texas

(Washington, D.C.) — Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, decried the opening of a 2,400-bed detention center in Dilley, Texas, constructed to house, among others, families fleeing persecution in Central America.

The detention center, operated by a private, for-profit group, was inaugurated December 15.

“It is inhumane to house young mothers with children in restrictive detention facilities, as if they are criminals,” said Bishop Elizondo December 16.

“Already traumatized from their journey, these families are very vulnerable and need care and support, not further emotional and psychological harm.” Studies have shown that detention has a harmful psychological impact on children.

Bishop Elizondo added that the Obama administration’s pursuit of a deterrence policy– including detention and interdiction– against children and families fleeing violence undermines basic human rights.

“Many of these families are fleeing persecution and should be afforded the full benefit of domestic and international law,” Bishop Elizondo said. “As we saw in the case of Artesia, detention denies mothers and children with valid legal claims meaningful access to due process, including legal representation.”

A temporary detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico, housing families was recently closed down, in part, because of strong opposition to due process violations and conditions there, especially for children. The average age of children detained in Artesia was six and a half years old.

Bishop Elizondo added that humane alternatives to detention exist, particularly community- based alternatives based on a case management model.

“Past community-based programs have shown that vulnerable groups such as families can be placed in a community setting and still appear at their immigration hearings, provided they are

given the proper support,” Bishop Elizondo said. “The government should explore this humane alternative and not cause further harm to these families, particularly children.”

Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins scholarship campaign

This month Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM) launched the inaugural fund raising campaign for the newly established JC:HEM Alumni Association Scholarship for graduates of the Diploma of Liberal Arts program offered in areas of the world where higher education opportunities rarely exist.

JC:HEM is an initiative of the Society of Jesus that brings higher education to those at the margins of our societies. Through a generous donor, JC:HEM offers Community Service Learning Tracks and Diploma courses through a blended on-site and on-line approach at no charge to the students.

According to the United Nations High Commission of Refugees, 51.2 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide and of these people, less than 1% can access higher education.

Since 2010, in partnership with Jesuit Refugee Service, with professors and Universities around the world more than 1,900 students have studied in JC:HEM programs, 28% of whom are women.   The first JC:HEM students graduated in September 2013 with a Diploma in Liberal Studies worth 45 US credits. They and the recent 2014 graduates are now actively seeking funds that will enable them to continue their studies towards a bachelor’s degree at other universities.

For approximately $9,000.00, a graduate of the JC:HEM Diploma program can continue their studies by enrolling in a college or university, either locally or in another country, to complete their Bachelors degree within three years.

“It is because of JC:HEM that even the grade school children now have a goal to further their education.  Before JC:HEM, many in this community had never seen a University.  This is a significant paradigm shift in a community that for years never had opportunities to stimulate their intellectual capabilities. Having a university for people living at the margins creates an impact that will be seen for years to come,” said JC:HEM’s Alumni Association Coordinator Karen Cordova

For more information about how to donate to the JC:HEM Alumni Association Scholarship fund or to share the campaign, visit the JC:HEM website at www.jc-hem.org or http://www.gofundme.com/JC-HEM-Alumni

for more information, please contact:

Deene Yenchochic
Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins
304-479-5193