National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Offers to Provide Aid and Shelter to Migrant Children

The head of the largest Hispanic evangelical Christian network in the United States announced it will offer to work with the Trump administration to provide resources and shelter to migrant children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Speaking during a call with reporters Monday (July 1), the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said his organization plans to launch a campaign to offer aid to immigrant children held in detention centers at the border.

The effort, which organizers are calling the “For His Children” campaign, will involve sending “shipments and cargo and truckloads of resources to the border,” including shoes, clothing and hygiene products, Rodriguez said.

“We have boots on the ground literally now working with our current administration in addressing some of the needs of these children coming over,” he said.

When a Religion News Service reporter asked if the campaign would involve churches providing shelter or foster homes for migrant children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Rodriguez said yes.

“That’s part of what we have in the rollout of the campaign,” he said. “It’s part of it.”

It was not immediately clear how many — or which — children the group might be able to take in. No details were available about what kind of government approval the process would require. It was also not clear whether the children would be housed just in churches or also in homes.

The Kairos Company, the communications firm that organized the call, told RNS churches who participate in the program plan to offer housing to children who would otherwise end up in detention centers, but noted they have not yet secured approval from the U.S. government to do so.

“In the meantime the churches will provide the necessary basic necessities and we are opening up churches to accommodate just in case the detention centers cannot hold the children or their families,” a spokesperson said in an email. “The church becomes a temporary housing facility for those seeking asylum or coming over the border undocumented and were captured in the process.”

The spokesperson also noted that the initiative will be led by the NHCLC, but not limited to their network.

RNS also asked the U.S. State Department about the potential program, but they deferred to the Department of Homeland Security, who also did not immediately respond. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — which assists with similar programs — also did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Rodriguez said For His Children is “revamping” a previous partnership with the humanitarian organization Convoy of Hope. That partnership began in July 2014 when unaccompanied children arrived in the U.S. under former President Obama.

The NHCLC president listed as potential partners Gus Reyes, director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Christian Life Commission, and Rev. Eli Bonilla, lead pastor at Bethel Christian Church in Orlando, Florida.

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SOURCE: Religion News Service, Emily McFarlan Miller and Jack Jenkins