- - Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Texan bishop said Sunday the debate over a flood of unaccompanied youths to the southern U.S. border has focused on their illegal status and what to do with them but has ignored the root causes of the problem.

“We just take it up at the point when they arrive at the border, and what we need to begin to understand better is why would they leave” Bishop Mark Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas, told ABC This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

“What would it take for you or me to leave our home, to leave it all behind, just to leave it as it is and to make that journey that they do know is very risky?” he added. “They do know they’re risking their lives.”

He said many of the youths are recruited by gangs in their hometowns in Mexico and Central America, so their only option is to flee.

Even when they are sent back to their countries, he said, “they would not stay; they would make another attempt, because they felt that to remain would mean their deaths.”

“We just need to find a way, first of all, to receive them according to existing laws that say we must receive people who are seeking asylum,” he said. “In fact, they are not illegal if they are coming under those circumstances.”

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