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Inside Washington

What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.

“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.

InsideWashingtonSudden illegal surge calls for humanitarian efforts

By Diann Noles

The surge is on! While tens of thousands of families and unaccompanied minors from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador flood the southern U.S. border, the debate on what to do with them has reached a crisis point. Should they be forced to return to their home where they could be in danger? Or should they be granted “refugee” status and allowed to stay in the United States?

Recognized as three of the most dangerous countries in the world, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador offer little but hardship for their people. Violence is abundant, but work is not. As a result, parents wanting a better, safer life for their children may resort to sending one or more family members on the long, often-dangerous journey to the United States, lured by the prospect that once on American soil, they will be able to stay.

While illegal crossings had been going down in recent years, 2014 has witnessed a spike in crossings, particularly from unaccompanied minors. The unintended consequences of a 2008 law aimed at stopping human trafficking, added to Obama White House policies that soften the border by making it easier for some illegal immigrants to be recognized as legitimate U.S. residents, are the major contributing factors to the increase. An expected 90,000 will have crossed the border by October 2014. Once here, they make their case directly to an immigration judge. However, due to the backlog of cases, it can take years to come before a judge.

To assist with the crisis, President Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion, with $1.7 for housing, food and transporting, and the remainder for immigration judges, legal representation, and securing the border. In the meantime, what should be done with the families, and especially the unaccompanied minors?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently asked Catholic churches in California to temporarily house and feed these people – until 2016. The DHS “has reached out to the diocese and the bishop, and asked us to shelter families in transition,” Maria Christina Mendez, at the Office of Hispanic Affairs, told The Daily Caller. The diocese has offered to feed and shelter the migrants at some of their facilities, including a convent and school. “None of them are going to stay more than 72 hours, we’ve been told,” Mendez said.

“This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected,” Pope Francis said in a July 15 message. John Anderson, Communications Director for the Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino agrees with the Pope. “I would say that we’re called to do this by our Catholic faith, which says that we should come to the aid of the stranger, to the migrant. We see the humanity of these people, the fact that they’re in trouble and need help and we see that as being more important than the public policy side,” Andrews said. “They are here and they need our help. There’s lots of good places in the Scriptures where you find that message, and we’re following it. The Good Samaritan was one. It doesn’t matter if that person lying on the side of the road has his documentation. You still have to help.”

Despite the Pope’s call to action, many Catholics do not agree. “They have made the decision that they’re going to absorb the immigrants that are coming through because the federal government called the bishop’s office on Monday,” Ann, a parishioner told Rush Limbaugh when she called into his radio show to protest the action. “The church will reimburse us for any out-of-pocket expenses and we were told not to talk to anybody about it, especially the media.”

She explained they were told to remain silent, to avoid local protests. “They don’t want a lot of people there at the churches when they busload these mothers and children.”

While sympathetic to the migrants’ situation, many state and local officials – previously unapprised of the migrants’ final destinations – are concerned with the legal and fiscal ramifications of absorbing these migrants into society. “Governors and mayors have the right to know when the federal government is transporting a large group of individuals, in this case illegal immigrants, into your state,” Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman told the Wall Street Journal.

This week, please pray:

Diann Noles is a former editor and writer for Christian publications in Tucson, AZ and Portland, OR. She now serves as Public Relations Director for a major Christian non-profit organization. She and her husband Bill live in Tucson, AZ and have two sons and four grandchildren.

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