Catholic World Report

Catholic Charities pushes back against ‘inaccurate’ viral video of migrant children

August 17, 2017 - A volunteer at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen helps a Central American refugee family take a bus to go stay with U.S. family/ Vic Hinterlang/Shutterstock

Catholic Charities Rio Grande Valley on Thursday said a viral video of their work with migrant children on the U.S.-Mexico border is “inaccurate and unauthorized.”

In the video published on April 6, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones – known for falsely claiming the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax – alleges that a man driving a car with migrant children outside a Catholic Charities humanitarian center in McAllen, Texas, was “smuggling” the children. The video has been viewed more than one million times on Twitter, a social media platform from which Jones remains banned for violating its policies.

In a Thursday press release, Catholic Charities Rio Grande Valley said the video was “inaccurate and unauthorized,” and accused Jones’ website InfoWars of targeting “vulnerable children and families.” Catholic Charities operates the center.

Sister Norma Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus and executive director of Catholic Charities Rio Grande Valley, said in a statement that the “illicitly taken video of families and children peacefully entering the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen is a contrived misrepresentation of the work of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.”

“The video clip is a staged confrontation interrupting the goodwill of someone providing assistance in the form of transportation for three mothers and their children to the Humanitarian Respite Center,” Pimentel said.

In the video clip, Jones and several other members of his crew halt the car with migrant children, loudly accusing the driver of smuggling the children and pointing out that several children in the back are not wearing seatbelts.

Pimentel acknowledged that the children in the video “should have been wearing seatbelts,” but “unfortunately, this was not the case in this instance.”

While at the respite center, migrants are making connections with their families in the United States, she said, adding that both the respite center and Catholic Charities “are not involved in any human smuggling or trafficking networks, but instead have worked tirelessly with Presidents Obama, Trump and Biden and their administrations as well as with local elected leaders to ensure that all asylum-seeking and citizen families alike are treated with human dignity and given clean clothes, food, and a moment of rest at the Humanitarian Respite Center.”

“I want to express my deep concern and disappointment regarding this attempt to sensationalize the work of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and so many in the city of McAllen who have consistently worked together to provide humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable,” she continued.

“Pope Francis says to us: ‘God is love! It is only on the path of love that you can know God. . . and through our love for our neighbor we can get to know God, who is love. Only through loving can we reach love.’ I aspire to live this message daily and to ensure that we, as the staff of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, practice this affirmation through our Work.”

Pimentel said she hopes people can “look past the fear mongering and mischaracterizations and remember to actually see the human beings fleeing persecution and their need for human dignity, which mirrors our own.”

Sister Norma Pimentel was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People for 2020.

She described the suffering of migrants in an October 2019 interview with CNA. “It’s amazing how we see human suffering in such magnitude, right across from the United States.”

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