As a member agency of Catholic Charities USA, we at Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Hartford are pleased to share and to countersign the following statement, which was originally posted on this Catholic Charities USA website:
“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25)
Catholic Charities USA and its 160-plus member agencies have a long history of serving their communities to help the most vulnerable find affordable housing, vital food assistance and nutrition, mental and physical integrated healthcare, and economic self-sufficiency and stability. When disaster strikes, our agencies provide long-term relief and help individuals and families rebuild their lives. Additionally, we provide immigration and refugees services.
Our work with migrants is rooted in the Gospel and Catholic social teaching. Our member agencies along the southern U.S. border have provided these services in coordination with the federal government for decades across multiple presidential administrations. Our work is humanitarian, not political.
Federal agencies and the local border cities turn to our member agencies and other local nonprofit organizations to aid them in caring for migrants. Our role is as critical as it is turnkey. Once a migrant has been granted permission by the federal government to be present in the United States, they are sent to us for transitional care that is threaded with the dignity we believe should be afforded to every human — a warm meal, a shower, clean clothing, medicine, and other supplies. Within usually two days, the migrants leave our centers to continue their journey while they await the start of their immigration court process which can take years to conclude.
The staff and volunteers have the utmost concern for the safety of the communities they live within and do everything they can to protect against the spread of COVID-19. They work with government officials to separate individuals and families who test positive to allow for isolation until a negative test is returned.
Of course, we are concerned with our ability to care for the growing number of newcomers and we recognize the immigration system in the U.S. is in dire need of being retooled. While those laws and trajectories remain outside our control, all of our labors are done in congruence with U.S. law.
We praise the tireless efforts of our member agencies at the border. Their staff and hundreds of volunteers will continue to provide services to people in need. With constantly changing conditions, surges in border crossings, limited facilities, the media spotlight, and the pressures of regulatory efforts meant to curtail their humanitarian work, they march on caring for one human life at a time — whether it be a fearful child or a parent seeking to provide for his or her family. In caring for the stranger, they are the hands of Jesus Christ.