The debate over unaccompanied immigrant minors from Central America coming into the United States is largely a problem of the country’s own making, says World Relief DuPage/Aurora executive director and former Central America missionary Emily Gray.
In an interview, Gray says that the violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras that has driven many children and teenagers over the border has increased because areas in these nations have come under the control of street gangs and drug traffickers.
“The markets for these drugs on our streets,” Gray points out. “If there wasn’t the demand, that would greatly reduce the need for the supply.” Gray says that she has personally seen a dramatic increase in the level of violence in Honduras, having repeatedly traveled there over the course of 13 years while working for Mission Lazarus.
World Relief is among a number of evangelical institutions calling for immediate immigration reform. Gray notes that the United States lacks any coherent policy on the issue and that the absence of coherency makes it a struggle ‒ and often impossible ‒ to follow the law.
World Relief is one of six organizations that formed the Evangelical Immigration Table in 2012, identifying six principles that they believe should serve as a guide to immigration policy. These principles include respecting the dignity of all people, respecting the rule of law, establishing a path toward citizenship or legal status for undocumented immigrants, and protecting the unity of the family.