US-Mexico border bishops sorrowed by migrant deaths

Brownsville, Texas, Jul 1, 2019 / 02:43 pm (CNA).- The bishops on either side of the Rio Grande, where several migrants died last week, expressed Friday their sorrow over the deaths.

Bishops Daniel Flores of Brownsville and Eugenio Andres Lira Rugarcia of Matamoros wrote June 28 to “express with much pain the sorrow of the whole community upon hearing of the parents and children that have recently lost their lives upon crossing the Río Grande River, seeking a better life.”

Óscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, 25, and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria died June 23, drowning as they tried to cross the Rio Grande from Matamoros. Graphic images of their bodies floating on the riverbank circulated across the world after they were discovered.

The bodies of a mother and three children were also found recently near Anzalduas Park in Mission, Texas, about 70 miles northwest of Brownsville.

“We offer our condolences to the families and loved ones of those who have died, and we recall that over the course of years countless persons have lost their lives in a similar manner,” Bishop Flores and Lira wrote.

They added that “united the families that suffer these sorrows, with whom we have been able personally to speak and pray, we ask God the Father for the eternal rest of their deceased loved ones, and we ask that He fill loved ones who remain with strength and hope in these difficult moments.”

“As we recognize the good that many persons do for our migrant brothers and sisters, we invite everyone, governments and society, to be ever aware that migrants are persons like us; with dignity and rights, with needs, sorrows and hopes. We must all extend a hand to help them have a better future, following the teaching Jesus has given us: ‘Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.’”

They concluded: “May Our Lady of Guadalupe intercede for us and obtain from God for us the wisdom, courage and strength to make it so.”

Martinez and his daughter, as well as his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, intended to apply for asylum in the US, but the international bridge from Matamoros was closed until Monday, so they chose to swim across the Rio Grande.

According to the New York Times, the family had left their home in El Salvador for economic reasons, and not to escape gang violence.

Tania, 21, is now at one of the migrant houses run by the Diocese of Matamoros.

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