Wide Awake and Worried about Murdered Mom & Child

Posted on June 15, 2016 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Migration Counselor on the Frontline

By Kerry Marie Conboy

A recent encounter has me wide awake tonight so I’m sharing in case it will bring awareness. As a migration counselor for Catholic Charities I met with a man who is grieving the loss of his sister and nephew. The mother and child fled life-threatening circumstances in Central America and in spite of numerous perils along the journey, arrived safely to the US. Like many, many others, they were unable to obtain legal representation for their immigration case, nor any comprehensible explanation of their rights, and were subsequently ordered removed. Less than a month after their return, the woman and child were brutally killed.

This man, unlike his sister and nephew, had been referred to us at Catholic Charities where I was helping him with his citizenship application.  But the capacity, particularly in complicated asylum cases such as that of his family, is limited compared to the need, especially in the Hudson Valley where I work.

Catholic Charities provides professional, confidential legal consultations, representation and assistance to documented and undocumented newcomers of all nationalities, ethnicities and religions. 

Although I don't always hear what happens when clients leave my office, this story is not unique. Our immigration system's lack of due process is not a trivial matter; it is a matter of life and death. The women, children, and unaccompanied minors who are now considered priorities for enforcement are not a danger to us. Quite the opposite, they are in danger. If they are here and they need help, we have a responsibility to them as fellow human beings.

What is our response to the attempts to escape the violence in Central America, which has some of the highest murder rates in the world? Prioritize the women and children for apprehension and removal. Paint them in the media as criminals and threats to our public security. Deport them without a meaningful opportunity to present their cases to remain in the US. I am well-aware that we can't save everyone--but this is yet another egregious example of why our immigration system needs dire help.

To my colleagues working on these complex cases in a dysfunctional system, keep fighting this life-giving fight. To my friends, family, and fellow Americans who have the audacity to suggest that the most vulnerable are the source of our country’s problems—shame on you.

If PERFECT love casts out ALL fear, then can even a dose of feeble love weaken the trepidation that paralyzes us from employing logic in our immigration laws?

Do you or someone you know need help with immigration? 

Call our immigration hotline at 212-419-3737 or toll-free in New York State at 1-800-566-7636 to

  • Obtain accurate information
  • Avoid exploitation
  • Report fraud

Find a Catholic Charities agency that provides quality help.

Kerry Marie Conboy works as a migration counselor in the Hudson Valley for  Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Resettlement department.

Catholic Charities is responding to the needs of our neighbors during the 
COVID-19 pandemic.

For Help Call 888-744-7900