Jerry Brown urges ‘religious call ... to welcome the stranger’ in border crisis

07/28/2014 12:05 PM

10/22/2014 2:17 PM

MEXICO CITY – Gov. Jerry Brown suggested Monday that Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s ordering of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to address the surge in border crossings is misguided, urging politicians instead to heed the “religious call … to welcome the stranger” in addressing the crisis.

“This is a human problem, and it has been the religious call of all religions to welcome the stranger, and it’s in that spirit that I believe the clergy can call the United States, Mexico and all the players to perhaps a higher response than might otherwise happen,” Brown said on the first full day of his trade mission to Mexico.

The Democratic governor is in the country to discuss the environment and trade, but tension over the illegal crossing of thousands of young immigrants from Central America has flared in recent weeks, and the subject was the focus of questioning by a throng of Mexican reporters after a private meeting between Brown and José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary.

“These are children, and many of them have relatives that are in California and other parts of the United States who are working, contributing to the well-being of people in the United States,” Brown said. “So given the principle of family values and family reconciliation, I want to give utmost consideration to what is in the best interest of those children, not what is in the best interest of politicians who might want to exploit this particular topic.”

Brown did not say what specific actions could be taken on the border, but he suggested the response in Texas by Perry, a Republican, is misguided.

“I hesitate to comment on the thinking that goes into the support of the Texas National Guard on the border. I would suspect that it will be of a relatively short duration, and wiser minds will prevail over the next several months.”

Brown’s remarks come a day after he announced a private meeting Tuesday with José Horacio Gómez, the Mexico-born archbishop of Los Angeles, and “more than a dozen other religious and diplomatic leaders from Central America … to discuss immigration.”

Brown said the issue could “not entirely” be de-politicized.

“But I do believe that the non-governmental organizations, particularly the churches, can play an important role,” he said. “And my goal is to try as much as I can to frame the issue of children … as a humanitarian challenge that should appeal to people of all political persuasions.”

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