By David C. Aguillard, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge
Guest Op/Ed appearing in The Advocate, 9/11/2014
Thirteen hundred children crossed the U.S. border recently to be reunited with their families in Louisiana, hoping to find safety but landing in the midst of a political power struggle. To some, these "unaccompanied minors" seem to represent President Barack Obama annexing Grand Isle the way Putin took Crimea. To others, the Obama administration appears callous, leaving the children in limbo by postponing previously promised action until after the elections.
At the end of a long, hazardous flight for survival, the U.S. border represented hope for thousands of children.
Baton Rouge, LA--Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge (CCDBR) announced today that more immigrant children, all seeking safety from violence in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador and living with guardians in Louisiana, will receive legal help from its Louisiana Esperanza Project (Esperanza). The agency was granted two new legal recruits—an attorney and paralegal--through the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Fellowship Program.
To help sponsored refugee children seeking protection in the United States, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge (CCDBR) has established the Louisiana Esperanza Project and received initial pledges of $310,000 over the next four years.
“The children at our border are some of the most vulnerable children on our continent,” said Winifred Reilly, who with her husband Kevin Reilly, Jr. helped kickoff the project with a challenge grant. “Their parents have the same hopes and dreams as we all have for our own.”
The project follows a statement by the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops issued earlier this month in which the Bishops urged protection of these vulnerable children and respect for their families.
Reilly donation to Catholic Charities is saving children from violence and murder
By David Jacobs--a reprint of an article appearing in Baton Rouge Area Foundation's Currents.
In a Central American town, a little girl named “Carmen” was raped again and again by members of a drug gang. Not unexpected, she was pregnant at 14. Worried that an even worse fate would befall her, Carmen’s parents sent her to a safe haven; the home of an uncle is better than dangerous streets. They were mistaken, for the uncle only continued the pattern of abuse.
At 17, Carmen decided to take control of her fate. Packing up her 3-year-old son, she traveled hundreds of miles toward the promise of America. She surrendered to border authorities, and made her way to her mother in the United States.
The abuse she suffered at home, and the inability of her own government to protect her, makes Carmen a good candidate to become a resident of the U.S., says David Aguillard, the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge.
NOTE: With her husband, Kevin Reilly Jr., Winifred Reilly helped kick off the Louisiana Esperanza Project with a pledge of $310,000 over four years. The project will provide legal services in an attempt to protect immigrant children and assure their sanctuary in the U.S. remains documented. Want to join The Reillys and protect the children? Contact us here.