Media CenterCRS Joins Pope in Call for Protection of Central American Refugees and Asylum-Seekers

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Jossie Flor Sapunar
Catholic Relief Services
(443) 833-2011
[email protected]


Papal Visit Highlights Violence in Migration through Mexico 

CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO, February 17, 2016 – Catholic Relief Services applauds Pope Francis for focusing the world’s attention on the issue of Central American migration during today’s mass on the border of the United States and Mexico.

“Migrants and refugees fleeing through Mexico are very vulnerable to kidnapping, extortion, assault and even death,” said Roberto Rojas, CRS Advisor for Hispanic Outreach, one of the many CRS staff present at the mass, on both sides of the border. “We’d like to see much stronger protection of those immigrant and refugee children.”

Rojas is among “Pope Francis’ VIPs,” mainly immigrants, refugees, and poor, in El Paso, Texas. They will greet the first American pope as he approaches the edge of the Rio Grande from the mass site in Ciudad Juarez. The Holy Father will offer prayers for those who have overcome danger or been arrested, as well as the 6,000 migrants who have died in the past 20 years during their perilous journeys north.

In an address to Mexican bishops on February 13, 2016, the pope termed migration “the challenge of our age.”  “There are millions of sons and daughters of the Church who today live in the diaspora or who are in transit, journeying to the north in search of new opportunities,” he said. “Many of them have left behind their roots in order to brave the future, even in clandestine conditions which involve so many risks.”

The pope’s call to action came as President Obama requested another $1 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 for the Central American northern triangle, to address many of the root causes of the flight of so many refugee children and families.

“The Congress was wise to more than double development assistance to Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico in its appropriations for Fiscal Year 2016.  This is an important step in the right direction to scale up critical interventions investing in children and youth.  These long-term interventions are long overdue, and we urge Congress to meet the President’s request for Development Assistance in Fiscal Year 2017 to address the humanitarian crisis,” said Jill Marie Gerschutz-Bell, CRS’ Senior Policy and Legislative Specialist.  

“CRS applauds the Administration’s announcement on Jan. 13 that it would work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to process and resettle children and youth in the region,” continued Gerschutz-Bell. “Along with the Unaccompanied Minors program, these initiatives take eligible children out of harm’s way and put them in an environment of protection.  The Administration should establish additional legal pathways to protection, such as Temporary Protected Status, for children and youth from Central America.”

For More Information, Read Pope Francis' in Mexico page.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit or and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief@CRSnewsYouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.



Jim Stipe

Digital and Social Media Manager

Jim Stipe
February 17, 2016

Based in Baltimore, MD

As the digital and social media manager, Jim oversees Catholic Relief Services’ social media channels, shoots photos and video, and uses digital and visual tools for creative storytelling. He also manages the CRS Newswire, which provides a range of information related to poverty and development....More