Child immigrant issue called "loudest cry yet for help"

The immigration debate hits close to home in northern Michigan where migrant workers fuel much of the farming economy.

The Obama administration is formally asking for $3.7 billion in emergency funds from Congress to address the flood of unaccompanied minor children coming illegally into the United States.

White House Press Secretary Josh earnest says the money would pay for more border patrol agents, immigration judges, aerial surveillance and new detention facilities.

The immigration debate hits close to home in northern Michigan where migrant workers fuel much of the farming economy.

Father Wayne Dziekan works with immigrants on a daily basis. Through the Diocese of Gaylord, he helps migrant workers who have health, economic, or legal issues.

â??I began to really learn what was going on around me,â?? said Dziekan, Director for the Secretariat of the Justice of Peace with the Diocese of Gaylord. â??And the more and more that I learned, the more passionate I became because I couldn't believe that these kinds of things were happening not only here in the United States, but at that time in Leelanau County.â??

Dziekan says there's evidence of a drastic increase throughout the country of minors coming across the border.

â??I see this current influx of young people perhaps as the loudest cry yet for help. It's decades of history there that, out of desperation, now is causing these young people to find no other solution but to try to come here. To do that, they face extraordinary difficulties.â??

When word spread that an organization near Saginaw wants to help house some of the child immigrants, community members protested.

Father dziekan says people need to understand that the children are running away from violence in their own countries.

Rather than judging the immigrants, he recommends talking to them and learning their story.

â??Many of the children have expressed great fear of returning back home. The only appropriate human response, let alone faith response, is, despite the difficulty, is to respond with compassion.â??

Father Dziekan says there needs to be a global solution, and that enforcement-only solutions aren't going accomplish anything.

The Gaylord Diocese could consider helping with the issue by housing immigrants, but any decisions would have to wait until the new bishop is ordained at the end of August.