July 17, 2014 at 1:00 am

Detroit college chief: We'll help Central American immigrants if Obama does

Detroit— The president of Marygrove College has a deal for the president of the United States.

If Barack Obama recognizes the Central American children pouring over the border as refugees, college president David Fike will use school resources to help them.

Fike, who will discuss his idea during a press conference Thursday morning, said he would offer scholarships to the older children and provide food and shelter for other youths in the Detroit Catholic school’s residence hall.

“We cannot be silent,” said Fike. “The lives of thousands of children and young people are at risk.”

Earlier this month President Barack Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to help handle the surge of young immigrants into the U.S.

Since the fall, 57,000 children have crossed the border alone after fleeing drug-related violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Fike said the president isn’t doing enough.

Frustrated by what he called Obama’s “lack of moral leadership on an issue that literally screams for moral leadership,” he called for the president to take a leadership role in solving it.

Fike called for other college leaders to follow his lead. By joining together, education leaders could combat widely publicized opposition against the immigrants, he said.

“Our Christian values mean we cannot and will not be complicit,” Fike said.

He wasn’t the only Catholic leader to broach the subject Wednesday.

Pope Francis called for “urgent intervention” to protect the children fleeing Central America.

He said countries need to adopt new forms of legal and safe migration, educate people about the dangers of such a journey, and promote development in the Central American nations.

“Many of their rights are violated,” the pontiff wrote in a letter to a Vatican conference on migration in Mexico.

“They are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes.”

He said such migration is treated as a sporadic event but actually is a common occurrence in almost all countries.

As for the Marygrove press conference, Fike will be joined by the Most Rev. Jose Arturo Cepeda Escobedo, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit, and Mary Jane Herb, president of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who founded the school in 1927.

The news conference is at 10 a.m. at the school’s Denk Chapman Hall.

fdonnelly@detroitnews.com
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