Catholic Charities Nun Decries Traffickers Taking Advantage of Women, Kids at Border Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley escorts a young asylum seeker upon his entry into the United States on February 26, 2021 in Brownsville, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)
By Fran Beyer | Sunday, 17 April 2022 01:53 PM
The executive director of the Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley on Sunday decried the traffickers at the southern border who take advantage of politics and fears of migrant mothers and children.
In an interview on CBS News' "Face The Nation," Sister Norma Pimentel said traffickers twist political messaging.
"It doesn't matter whether or who is in office or what is happening here, the message is twisted and used for their advantage," she said. "I think that contributes to a lot of why these families are all of a sudden surges at some points and then others … there are so many factors involved, but that may be one of them."
"They're scared that they've been through so much," she said of the migrants. "But they're hopeful, hopeful that maybe now they have a chance to be somewhere safe because they have been through a lot. This journey that they take from their country through all along the path they go through, people taking advantage of them, you can see it in their faces and what they've been through. And having to wait in Mexico for so long also makes them very vulnerable and at high risk."
According to Pimentel, the surging of mothers and children hasn't changed since 2014.
"What I'm seeing today is what we've seen already for several years back, surges of families arriving to our border that leave their country because what's happening in their country has not changed," she said.
"It continues to be a place where they are afraid to be there for their children. And so what we see a lot here at the border since 2014, we saw it in great surges, children unaccompanied and families, moms with their kids. And even in 2019, and up to today, it's no different."
The nun noted that high rates of children now on the border is also the result of not sending them back, and from trying to place them safely with the right family member.
"Definitely the numbers are high, and I can see why the children are not being sent back because of the fact that they run a big risk," she said. "You have to keep the child safe. And especially if they're unaccompanied, you cannot just send them back like they're sending everybody else. They have to be protected. They need to be processed correctly to make sure they are handed over to the right family member. And so that's why we're seeing such high numbers of children right now."
Pimentel called on President Joe Biden to come to the border to see the situation, and the problems, for himself.
"This should not be about politics. It needs to be about people, because that's what we're seeing here at the border," she said. "And the Holy Father's recognition was recognizing all of us doing what we were doing, where we reach out to those that we see before us suffering. So I certainly hope that our present president joins us and comes on and accompanies us so that he can see for himself."