Sound of Freedom has topped $150,000,000 in box office take while dramatically calling attention to the horrific trafficking of children across international borders. Given the gravity of this evil and our own gross mishandling of priests who preyed on children, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) should welcome this opportunity to reassure the faithful that its border policies and Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program fully protect children from exploitation. I reached out to the USCCB hoping to find model programs, transparency and guarantees that the Catholic Church has protected migrant children from sexual and physical exploitation. Have any of the children cared for by the Church suffered exploitation in their journey to the border or in placements facilitated by the Catholic Church, I asked. The USCCB refused to respond.
The USCCB’s lack of transparency is unacceptable. Mounting evidence has exposed gross exploitation of children at the border and in placements pursuant to the authority of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (“ORR”).The USCCB remains the primary institutional voice opposing border restrictions, while also contracting with ORR to provide care to unaccompanied children. In 2020 and 2021, the USCCB had contracts for nearly $25,000,000 each year with the ORR to care for and place migrant children. What happened to these children and why won’t the USCCB discuss it?
The USCCB must urgently re-assess its border policy and its denial of a link between open borders and child exploitation. It must address emerging evidence of the exploitation of unaccompanied children by smugglers and sponsors. More than any other institution, the US Catholic Church should have the protection of children as its major policy priority. This priority coincides with Church teaching on the protection of children, the special expertise the Church has developed in response to its sexual abuse scandal and the reality that another wave of lawsuits for enabling the exploitation of children will destroy the Catholic Church in America.
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