The recent focus in the media and in Washington on unaccompanied children crossing the U.S./Mexico border has highlighted the variety of opinions in the debate about U.S. immigration policy. That variety also exists within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — a fact Presbyterian Disaster Assistance realizes and respects.

As it sent out an appeal for funds to help address the situation on the border, PDA sees this as an opportunity for Presbyterians to listen to the full range of perspectives about immigration while also responding to Christ’s call to compassion, said the Rev. Laurie Krause, PDA coordinator.

“People have such a vast range of positions on immigration policy, and in a way, this intercepts with our hopes and our fears about immigration policy,” she said. “But who can turn away a child?”

The appeal asks Presbyterians to donate money to help churches and mid councils already working on the border to continue their ministries, which range from hosting worship services at detention centers to providing hospitality to women and children dropped off at bus stations with no resources.

PDA is also working with ecumenical partners — including Church World Service, ACT Alliance and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services — to share resources and determine current and future needs.

Because the situation is a “moving target” that is constantly changing, PDA is also creating a working group of Presbyterian entities on the border to share information and resources, Kraus said, adding that the Office of Public Witness and the Office of the General Assembly’s immigration issues department are also involved.

“It’s a heartfelt engagement of the entire Presbyterian church,” Kraus said.

In addition to donating to the appeal, Presbyterians can create Gift of the Heart kits — collections of items related to hygiene, school supplies, cleaning and baby care. Click here for more information about the kits.