Don’t forget child migrants

By Sam Lucero | The Compass | June 14, 2017

Mexico City Policy is good first start

In January, President Donald Trump issued a presidential memorandum reinstating a policy that prohibits U.S. funding for international health programs that promote or perform abortion services. That policy took effect May 15.

Known as the Mexico City Policy, it was first implemented by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Reagan unveiled the plan that year — aimed at foreign nongovernmental organizations receiving U.S. taxpayer money — during a U.N. International Conference on Population in Mexico City.

Every Democratic president since Reagan has nullified the plan while every Republican president has reinstated it. Trump’s memo expanded the plan and gave it a new name, “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance.”

Two days after the U.S. State Department announced the plan, Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) applauded the move.

“The new policy establishes pro-child safeguards … on about $8.8 billion in annual global health assistance funding appropriated to the U.S. Agency for International Development and the departments of State and Defense,” said Smith in a commentary posted on The Daily Signal website.

The new policy does not reduce funding for global health assistance “by so much as a dollar,” he said.

Smith also said that pro-abortion organizations have used U.S. taxpayer funds in the past “to weaken, undermine or reverse pro-life laws in other nations and systematically destroy the precious lives of unborn children.”

The congressman, who is Catholic, echoed what Catholic social teaching says: “No one is expendable or a throwaway. Every human life has infinite value.”

These are words that all people, regardless of nationality, political persuasion or religion, should support. It is also a belief that must be expanded to other policies introduced by the Trump administration.

For example, supporting the United Nations in its efforts to protect child migrants and refugees.

During a U.N. Human Rights panel discussion June 9, a Vatican observer, Archbishop Ivan Kurkovic, spoke about the plight of child migrants around the world. In some countries, they are viewed as criminals and are incarcerated. Archbishop Kukovic calls these harsh policies “an insult to human dignity.”

“The grave error of the detention model is that it considers the children as sole, isolated subjects, responsible for the situations in which they find themselves and over which they have little, if any, control,” Archbishop Jurkovic said at the panel discussion, according to Catholic News Service.

At issue, he said, is that this treatment of child migrants “wrongly absolves the international community at large from responsibilities that it regularly fails to fulfill.”

The United Nations Children’s Fund has reported that child migrant numbers are at their highest number ever. “At least 300,000 unaccompanied and separated children were recorded in some 80 countries in 2015 and 2016, up from 66,000 in 2010 and 2011,” stated a U.N. Report. Many of these children were fleeing war and other conflicts.

June 20 is World Refugee Day, an opportunity to reflect on the fact that about half of the 21.3 million refugees worldwide are under the age of 18.

A consistent ethic of life requires us to stand up for children in all situations. Migrant and refugee children may very well be those whose lives are spared thanks to the Mexico City Plan. But if they are caught in a web of violence, human trafficking or another form of human indignity, are those initial efforts to preserve life in vain?

As Rep. Smith stated, no one is expendable or a throwaway, including child migrants.

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