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Cardinal Brings Up Migrant Children; Pope Francis Might Too … To Congress

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Cardinal Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga at the Archdiocese of San Antonio

The migration of minor children from Central America into the United States is one of the most painful problems facing us, as a community, said a leading advisor to Pope Francis, who is supposed to visit the U.S. Capitol in September and is expected to talk to lawmakers about a number of issues. Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of the Honduras visited San Antonio this week and talked about what Central American children were going through.

The influx of minor children from the Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala is a migration issue the cardinal holds close to heart. He is Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, the capital of the Honduras.

Cardinal Maradiaga said he believed drug lords organized the migration to divert attention from their activities. “I am convinced this was organized by the drug lords. They were paying coyotes in order to move so many children at once, in order to attract [attention] to this problem and to leave other places free for their traffic.”

Desperate migration from struggling families in Central America is not new. The cardinal said migration from El Salvador into the Honduras started in the 1980s, fueled by poverty and war. He said at that point, the Honduras was a place ofrefuge.“At that time we used to have more than 20,000 refugees living in concentration camps.”

The cardinal said that over the last 15 years, the Catholic Church hadbeen organizing pastoral support for migrants and those the U.S. sent back to their countries. Between October 2014 and March this year,the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had ordered deportation hearings for 24,000 people from the Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

The Church has been attempting to help those that have been senthome. Cardinal Maradiaga said there was also an attempted at a coordinated effort between the three countries to help those displaced, an endeavor called the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle.

“In order to have special funds to create sources of work for many of these young people, I believe this is a very good idea, and will not be [used for] corruption, because now we have what we call social auditors that wont allow this money to go to the same pockets of the corrupted people.”

Cardinal Maradiaga urged President Obama to support the initiative. Later this year, when Pope Francis will become the first pontiff to address the U.S. Congress,the cardinal, while saying he could notspeak directly for the Pope, believed the words might not be particularly pleasant to hear.“He’s invited to talk to the Congress of the United States.It’s the first time in history, and he’s not going to say very polite [things];he will denounce the real problems, I am convinced.”

The cardinal would not elaborate on the problems that might come up in the papal address, but it’s quite likely the plight of migrant children, caught between two hostile worlds, will be among them.   

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules