Las Cruces Diocese announces 'Project Oak Tree;' a humanitarian mission for immigrants
POSTED: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - 8:40am
UPDATED: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - 3:22pm
Las Cruces, NM — Las Cruces Catholic Diocese Bishop Cantu held a press conference Tuesday at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church to announce a humanitarian program called Project Oak Tree.
Bishop Cantu says that Project Oak Tree comes from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 18, where In the heat of the day, when Abraham looked up, he saw three men standing nearby his tent. He washed their feet and bowed low to the ground. Abraham asked to bring his three guests something to eat to refresh them so that they could be on their way.
Project Oak Tree will address the humanitarian crises of women and children from Central America crossing the US-Mexico border.
This crisis calls for all Americans to unite in caring for these children. Recently, El Paso Mark Seitz testified before a congressional committee about the human consequences that these children have already endured. Bishop Cantu says he wholeheartedly agrees with Bishop Seitz and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that this challenge will test the moral fiber of our country. The Church within these Central American countries is discouraging the children from undertaking this dangerous journey.
The humanitarian response is aimed at assisting single parents who are fleeing some of the most violent countries in the world. Many of them may qualify for asylum or are applying for it. All have been detained by Border Patrol and processed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement given orders to report to a specified ICE office, and then turned over to the Diocese’s Project Oak Tree for temporary shelter until transportation can be arranged to get them to a relative’s home. All of this is done in accordance wit the United States law.
The Diocese does not make any decisions regarding who should be placed into this program. It is simply providing temporary shelter and assistance for people in need at the request of the Federal Government. The Diocese makes no judgment regarding the status of any of the people sent to us for temporary shelter.
Bishop Cantu says this is a matter of social justice. The Church views this as a situation as one of severe humanitarian need. We are providing food, shelter, and clothing to persons that the United States is allowing to stay in this country temporarily pending the outcome of hearings to determine whether they may remain.
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