News broke from the Vatican over the weekend that Pope Francis had donated $500,000 to assist the plight of migrants massed on the U.S.-Mexico border. The funds — raised from the Catholic Peter's Pence Collection — will fund 27 projects sponsored by 16 Mexican dioceses that will provide food, shelter and other necessities to approximately 75,000 stranded migrant families and individuals.
But the Pope's philanthropy is perceived suspiciously by Michael Hichborn, president of The Lepanto Institute.
"I'm not sure, exactly, what Pope Francis is hoping to achieve," he wrote in an email to Church Militant. "The money was ostensibly sent to 'house and feed' the 75,000 'stranded migrants.' But $500,000 divided among them is $6.66, which is just enough to buy everyone there a single Whopper meal at Burger King."
Hichborn continued: "This has all the appearance of an expensive publicity stunt aimed at poking the United States in the eye, but all it will really accomplish is proving that you can't just throw money at a problem and expect it to fix things."
An outspoken critic of current U.S. immigration policies, the Pope has made pointed barbs against President Donald Trump's goal to construct a barrier on the border separating the United States and Mexico.
For example, the Pope supported the 14,000-member caravan initiated in Honduras last November, which required the United States to deploy an additional 800 soldiers on the border to maintain control. The number of immigrants has proven tremendously burdensome on the Mexican border towns and has caused a humanitarian crisis.
Last month, Francis went even further. After making veiled comparisons of Trump to Adolf Hitler, the Pontiff declared, "Builders of walls, whether they are of razor-wire or brick, will become prisoners of the walls they build. That's history."
He added: "[W]e need bridges and we feel pain when we see people who prefer to build walls." Conservative pundits noted the Vatican is protected by a wall.
The surge in migration to the U.S. southern border includes former residents of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
Speaking to The Washington Post last October, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said he was told by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández that the caravans were financed by the Marxist government of Venezuela.
Pence continued Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro funded the caravan in retaliation for unsubstantiated charges the United States attempted to assassinate him. Pence stated:
People that are driving this caravan north to challenge our sovereignty, to challenge our borders, are doing so without any regard for human life and doing advance some political statement, or in the case of human traffickers, strictly for financial profit. The president is absolutely determined to use all means at his disposal to organize efforts to have Mexico turn this caravan around. ...
It is inconceivable that there would not be individuals from the Middle East as a part of this growing caravan. What the President is determined to do is put the safety and security of the American people first, and I know the President will be addressing this in the coming days about ways we need to close the loopholes that human traffickers and other dangerous individuals used to entice vulnerable families to make the long and dangerous trek north.
According to an April 10 report in The New York Times:
The immigration courts now have more than 800,000 pending cases; each one takes an average of 700 days to process. And because laws and court rulings aimed at protecting children prohibit jailing young people for more than 20 days, families are often simply released. They are dropped off at downtown bus stations in places like Brownsville, Tex., where dozens last week sat on gray metal benches, most without money or even laces on their shoes, heading for destinations across the United States.
The same article claimed an estimated 100,000 migrants arrive at the border each month, which adds up to 1 million individuals attempting to cross the border into the United States over the past calendar year. Twenty-seven thousand children are estimated to trek over the U.S. border in April alone.
Additionally, according to the newspaper, migrant families rose 560% between February 2018 and February 2019.
Kishore Jayabalan, director of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty's office in Rome, wrote earlier this month: "The weakness of institutional Christianity is perhaps one reason why mass immigration has become a political crisis: There is no mediator between open-border globalism and ethnic nationalism."