Ted Bergh, CEO, Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio
The death of Oscar Alberto Martínez and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, on Monday, June 24th shocked the country. The two drowned in an attempt to cross the Rio Grande River into the United States. This is a grim reminder of the dangerous journey migrants take to get into the United States and the desperate life threatening situations forcing deadly risk taking by families.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is specifically calling on the federal government to hear the cry of the poor and vulnerable and to fix a broken immigration system.
“We join with our Holy Father Pope Francis in immense sadness, having seen the horrific images of Oscar Martinez and his daughter Angie Valeria who drowned in the Rio Grande Valley while attempting to flee persecution and enter the United States. This image cries to heaven for justice. This image silences politics. Who can look on this picture and not see the results of the failures of all of us to find a humane and just solution to the immigration crisis? Sadly, this picture shows the daily plight of our brothers and sisters. Not only does their cry reach heaven. It reaches us. And it must now reach our federal government.”
In Cincinnati, Catholic Charities acts to serve, enlighten and empower poor and vulnerable families. In 2018, we served:
• 2000 individuals with Su Casa Hispanic Center’s emergency case management service
• 57 children were part of the Su Casa summer enrichment program
• 235 accessed immigration legal services to apply for resident status
• 608 attended education classes
• 3,079 individuals in health outreach program received medical referrals
Many of the families served are suffering separation from loved ones caused by detention and deportation of asylum seekers. Catholic Charities also works with unaccompanied children, who have reached our community by screening caregivers and providing case management for these children to determine means to safe, sanitary living conditions with access to schools and care.
We believe in our nation’s history of being a beacon of hope for families fleeing persecution, war and violence and remain steadfast in our faith and solidarity with all immigrants. Keeping families together and protecting vulnerable children is a fundamental Christian duty rooted in God’s mercy.