Local bishop speaks out on immigration crisis - WNEM TV 5

Local bishop speaks out on immigration crisis

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Protestors across the country are angry immigrant children fleeing violence in Central America are being transported to their towns to be housed and processed for deportation.

The demonstrations follow the first wave of deportation flights from the United States back to Honduras.

To speed up the process lawmakers are introducing a measure to send more immigration judges to border towns.

Washington lawmakers are still considering an administration request for $3.7 billion to help deal with the growing crisis.

Meanwhile, a local religious leader weighed in on the immigration crisis.

Bishop Joseph Cistone from the Saginaw Catholic Diocese is calling for a more compassionate response to the 57,000 unaccompanied children who have flooded across the U.S. border since October.

While the Saginaw Catholic Diocese and other local church leaders want to make it clear they are not picking sides on this issue, they are joining together calling for a more compassionate response to the immigration crisis that is now taking center stage in Mid-Michigan.

"They're not coming here to America to create trouble and havoc. They're running away from it," Cistone said.

Cistone is joining the conversation about the possibility of undocumented children from Central America seeking refuge at a social services facility in Vassar.

He's calling for Mid-Michigan to show compassion toward the unaccompanied children.

"We need to be cautious. I'm sure people will have their guards up, but I think we need to trust the system at this point that they're trying to interview these children and get to know them as quickly as possible," Cistone said.

Cistone traveled to El Salvador last winter where he interacted with several children. There he was able to gain a better understanding of exactly what goes on there, and why these children are so desperate to run away. 

"This is a little different than people just coming from Mexico into the U.S. looking for work. These are children who have either on their own or encouraged by other family members to run for their life," Cistone said.

Cistone and other church leaders in Vassar said they aren't picking sides on the immigration issue, but Cistone said he hopes people don't take their frustrations with the government out on these children. Many of whom flee from violence in their home countries.

"I myself could have my own thoughts about how we should go about immigration reform, but that's not the issue we're addressing. The issue of these children and I think it's getting blurred the distinction between our feelings and attitudes towards government and our feelings and attitudes toward children," Cistone said.

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