Update: As of the afternoon of June 27, the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill approving $4.6 billion to care for migrant refugees detained at the U.S.-Mexico border. The bill was already passed in the Senate, and President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law. World Vision is grateful to advocates who spoke out on this issue.


There’s a crisis at our border. Children are suffering, and it’s time to act.

The situation at the U.S. border with Mexico has again been at the forefront of the news after recent reports of some children and infants being housed in unsanitary conditions. For many Americans, regardless of political affiliation, the suffering of children brings a new sense of urgency to the humanitarian crisis at our southern border. And it’s clear that the agencies struggling to provide adequate facilities for the overwhelming flow of migrants — more than 132,000 migrants were apprehended in May alone — have reached a breaking point.

What’s happening at the U.S. border now?

On June 21, Associated Press News (AP News) published a sobering report on the conditions of some migrant children being held at a facility in Clint, Texas, near El Paso. A team of attorneys interviewed more than 60 of the more than 300+ children being held there. The attorneys were inspecting the facilities to ensure compliance with the Flores settlement, a legal agreement reached in 1997 that sets forth legal standards for how migrant children and families must be treated while detained in the U.S.

The Flores settlement states clearly that minors must be given access to sanitation, food, adequate supervision, and adequate temperature control.

The team found the Clint facility far from adequate. A 2-year-old boy had wet his pants and the young girls taking care of him, minors themselves, didn’t have diapers available to change him. Children fell asleep in chairs during interviews due to extreme fatigue, and some had gone weeks without being able to bathe or get a clean change of clothes.

As of June 25, some of the children at the Clint facility have been moved, but according to AP News, they still face challenging conditions. Detention facilities, stretched too far, face overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and insufficient supervision for children. Some facilities aren’t able to provide the very basics like sufficient blankets and toothbrushes.

Republican and Democrat lawmakers agree — conditions at the border are unacceptable.

How long has there been a migrant crisis?

News coverage around the overcrowded border facilities is nothing new. From October 2013 to June 2014 alone, more than 52,000 unaccompanied children tried to cross the Mexico-U.S. border and were detained — more than twice as many as the year before. About 60 percent of those children said they came because of violence in their home countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.

Why are so many people leaving Central America? Learn about the root causes behind the current migration crisis.

How is the U.S. government responding?

Because of a shortage of resources, the federal government recently made the decision to cut key services for children at the border. The decision to cut recreation, education, and legal services will make it harder for children to adjust once they leave detainment, and being denied these services can cause long-term developmental harm. Without legal services, unaccompanied minors have no one to speak for their needs.

Learn more about how cutting services will affect children and what World Vision is doing to help.

In an interview with AP News, former acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders urged Congress to pass an emergency funding package that would help care for unaccompanied migrant children.

“The death of a child is always a terrible thing, but here is a situation where, because there is not enough funding… they can’t move the people out of our custody.”

— Commissioner John Sanders

How can we help children at the border?

As Christians, we know that God cares deeply for all children. He sent his Son to die for them. God hears their cries, and he hears our prayers (1 John 5:14).

We can pray that:

  • Lawmakers, government leaders, and the Administration would be given the gifts of wisdom and compassion to work together to quickly bring relief to the children at the border
  • Those working with detained children every day would be encouraged to act with compassion, grace, and perseverance
  • World Vision’s work addressing the root causes of migration in Central America would expand and help people be able to choose to stay safely at home
  • That Congress, the president, and people of influence would put prioritize working together to create a bipartisan, complete solution that provides for adequate housing, sanitation, nutrition, education, and legal services for children at the border

“World Vision believes that all children are made in the image of God and are deserving of dignity, respect and compassion.  Children seeking refuge from violence and poverty, now separated from their families in U.S. government facilities, are among the most vulnerable. I urge Congress and the Administration to act immediately to ensure the well-being of these vulnerable children. It is our moral and legal obligation to protect and care for them, and our policy and practice must reflect that reality.”

— Edgar Sandoval, President of World Vision U.S. in an Evangelical Immigration Table statement

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Learn more about World Vision’s advocacy work.

Top photo: ChuckSchugPhotography/iStock by Getty Images

7 Comments

  • Couldn’t we set up some sort of fostering system for these kids? I’d take a couple and keep them warm and fed until their parents are found or the feds figure out what to do with them. Seems like Christians all over the country should step up.

  • I am concerned that the USA pressured Mexico to turn them around before reaching the border. I won’t agree to planned ignorance of the problem. The kids need us. Bless them.

  • You say you are helping and hopeful for money to help the children but never say this should not be happening in the first place. You do not comment on who is working or what is happening to change our regulations to make it even, almost possible, for refugees to enter our country legally. I understand there is a bill pending for money for the children but what about their parents who have been separated from them? This is not a situation in which Christians should be tolerating, in my opinion.I could never imagine God saying it is ok to separate children from parents and lock them all up. As a Christian I see this problem as most ungodly and anyone who thinks it is ok is not a believer. There is just no argument unless there is a fix in the works and there appears not to be. I think of the “Give me your tired your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free the restless refuge from your teeming shore, send these the homeless refuge tossed to thee. I lift my lamp behind beside the golden door.” We have sung that song for ages and now we dare not sing it, because it is not true.

    • Thank you for your comment and your passion for the welfare of vulnerable migrant children. As a child-focused organization, founded on the belief that all people are created in God’s image, our focus is on the safety and welfare of the most vulnerable children. World Vision statements regarding migration from Central America have called upon the US government to hold the protection, well-being, and development of migrant children supreme in policy-making. In addition, World Vision is supportive of immigration reform consistent with the principles of the Evangelical Immigration Table. We will continue to advocate for these policies while working to address the root causes of migration as a long-term and sustainable solution. Thank you again for being a voice for justice for both children and adults.

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