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The National Council of Churches (NCC) grieves deeply upon hearing the news that a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl, Jakelin Caal Maquin, died of dehydration and shock while in the custody of United States Customs and Border Patrol during the first week of December.  The NCC has previously decried the use of tear gas on persons migrating across the border and the cruel policy of separating children from their parents.

The death of this young girl represents an egregious disregard for the safety and care of persons in the custody of US officials. Hospitality and care must be given to ensure the health and safety of persons who have spent days, if not weeks, in arid and dangerous conditions prior to their crossing of the border.

There are moments when one terrible, tragic death captures the attention of the entire world. This is one of those moments. The death of this young girl represents the failure of the US government’s response to a humanitarian, economic, and political crisis among the nations who are our neighbors in this hemisphere.

The National Council of Churches joins in prayer for this girl’s family members who grieve her loss.  We also pray for all of those making the treacherous journey across the desert and are reminded of Abraham, Sarah, Mary, Joseph, and countless others who made similar journeys in the light of hope.

As we approach Christmas it is heartbreaking to consider there are many thousands of families in desperate need of the assistance of our nation.  We urge Congress to take up comprehensive immigration reform and call upon President Trump to end policies that place persons in harm’s way as they seek relief from the circumstances that caused them to leave their home countries.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

-Hebrews 13:2 NRSV