A Methodist bishop whose church receives millions of dollars in federal grants each year to house unaccompanied alien children asserted in a House hearing on Tuesday that the U.S. has “raped” immigrants’ home countries.
“What is your church doing to discourage people from coming to the United States illegally and staying in the United States illegally?” Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte asked Bishop Minerva Carcano during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
Carcano heads the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church, which supports comprehensive immigration reform. The church’s Board of Child Care has received at least $7.6 million in federal grants in the last three years to provide shelter services for unaccompanied alien children who are apprehended crossing into the U.S. illegally.
“We are working to welcome everyone,” Carcano told Goodlatte in response to his question about welcoming illegal aliens.
“That is very concerning to me,” the Republican replied, adding that the United Methodist Church (UMC) was “essentially aiding and abetting” illegal aliens.
“We do not ask people their immigration status when they are hungry,” said Carcano.
That’s when the bishop — the first Hispanic woman elected to her position at UMC — launched into an attack on U.S. foreign policy, blaming it for a situation that has forced Central Americans to flee their homes.
“Immigrants want to stay home,” she said. “They’re not able to stay home because we’ve undermined their economies. We have raped their lands.”
“I would restate that most immigrants want to stay home. But they can’t feed their families,” she continued, adding that the U.S.’s involvement in Central America has harmed their economies “in disastrous ways.”
“We’ve been involved in their politics in ways that have undermined their countries and left their societies in shambles.”
A massive surge of unaccompanied alien children began in 2014 when nearly 70,000 children — mostly from Central America — were apprehended at the southern U.S. border. Federal law requires that minors from countries that do not border the U.S. be placed into the care of the Department of Health and Human Services. From there, they are provided shelter until the agency can find a sponsor to take custody.
Organizations like UMC are contracted to provide shelter and care while the minors are awaiting that transfer. Many other religious organizations take part in the federal program.
The Obama administration has argued that Central American immigrants are fleeing violence in their home countries. But many Republicans have insisted that the Obama administration’s relaxed immigration policies have led illegal aliens to come to the U.S. based on the belief that they will be allowed to stay.