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Rev. Miguel Rivera
CONLAMIC President

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Press Release - nationaljournal.com
By Brian Resnick
June 16, 2014

Why 90,000 Children Flooding Our Border Is Not an Immigration Story

Virtual cities of children are fleeing their homes. This is a lot bigger than U.S. border control, a United Nations protection officer explains.

A boy in Mexico peers through a border fence into Arizona following a special "Mass on the Border" on April 1, 2014 in Nogales, Ariz.(John Moore/Getty Images)

The numbers are astounding.

Just a few weeks ago, the United States was projecting 60,000 unaccompanied minors would attempt to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border by the end of the year. That projection is now 90,000, and it may be surpassed.

Virtual cities of children are picking up and fleeing El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala—some of the most dangerous places in this hemisphere. In Washington, the story has stoked the longstanding debate over border policy. But U.S. immigration policy is just a small part of this story. Yes, the U.S. immigration system is now bottlenecked with the influx, prompting emergency response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But changing U.S. border policy won't stem the root of the exodus.

"The normal migration patterns in this region have changed," Leslie Velez, senior protection officer at the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, explains. These people aren't coming here for economic opportunity. They are fleeing for their lives.

Earlier this year, the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees surveyed 404 children from Mexico and Central America who arrived in the United States illegally, and asked a simple question: Why did you leave? The report found "that no less than 58 percent of the 404 children interviewed were forcibly displaced" to a degree that warranted international protection, meaning that if the U.S. refused these children, it could be in breach of U.N. conventions.
Velez was one of the authors of that report, interviewing undocumented immigrant children across the U.S. immigration system for two hours each. They told Velez and her team stories of extreme violence, and fear of being caught up in gangs. Forty-eight percent of the children "shared experiences of how they had been personally affected by the augmented violence" at the hands of "organized armed criminal actors, including drug cartels and gangs, or by state actors."

Recently, I spoke with Velez over the phone to learn more about the forces motivating children to make the journey north. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.

When did it become apparent that something out of the ordinary was happening with migration out of Central America?

Our sister agency, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, started the clock at the increase in violence and insecurity in the Northern Triangle in 2006.

Around 2008, it was probably the first time it really hit the U.N. refugee agency's radar. When we went back to the numbers, there was an increase in asylum applications starting as early as 2005. It wasn't too significant until we got to 2008. And in 2008 to 2013 we noted a 712 percent increase that were lodged in countries other than the United States [like Mexico, Panama, Belize, and Costa Rica].

So why are we hearing about this now?

The numbers have been doubling every year since 2011. And for us, that's dramatic. For the U.S. government—who has been really challenged in order to process this large number—I think their capacity has really been tested in the last few weeks. I think that's what generated a lot of attention. Because the numbers have rapidly increased.

And your next followup question is probably going to be, "Why?"

Yes it is. Why?

From reports that we are hearing from individuals on the ground, both from our U.N. offices that are there, as well as NGOs—in particular Catholic Relief Services in El Salvador—they have been really clear that on the ground a few important things are happening.

One is that the criminal armed actors, specifically gangs, are really operating with significant impunity and targeting children at a younger and younger age. Recently there was a very public massacre and dismemberment of children as young as seven who had refused to join the gang. So it was a message to show who is in power, who is in control.

This is a huge story, involving tens of thousands of personal stories and the intricate histories of three troubled countries. But for those unfamiliar with the happenings in Central America—how would you encapsulate what's going on down there?

It's a humanitarian crisis in the region. The numbers are alarming, but the stories behind them are even more so. The situation is basically this: we have weak governments, entrenched poverty, and a growing control and power of criminal actors.

Why kids?

That's a really good question. The kids are vulnerable because they are children. And they are being targeted.

We liken the situation very much to the situation of the recruitment of child soldiers on other continents. Children are particularly vulnerable, they are susceptible to harm, they are easily terrorized, and the very fact that they are children is the single factor in the harm that they are experiencing. They are specifically being target to be recruited. They are the ones who are being bullied.

Much of the news has focused on the U.S. response at the border. But is there much journalism coming out of the conflict areas?

There's really little. Most of the media that covers it well is Spanish media.

Is that changing?

I hope so.

Who is making the decision to flee, to go north? Is it the kids themselves, the parents? How much choice do the kids have in this and how do they make this decision?

I think I hear the question you are asking but I'm going to give you a different answer.

This is a situation of forced displacement. After interviewing 404 children for our own report, when the numbers came back they showed that 58 percent of them were fleeing violence. Very little choice, that they were fleeing.

I think your question went to, well, who has the agency here, is it the children making decision for themselves, the grandparents, the family members? Who is doing it?"

I guess the question back to you is, is there really a choice here? Already in the context of entrenched poverty in which criminal gang armed actors can really act with impunity. This is a bad recipe.

According to reports, as many as 60,000 minors have come to our border this year. When I hear numbers that high, I wonder, is this a systematic form of travel? Are there economies involved in this mass movement of people? Exploitation?

Well, the 60,000 mark was hit maybe a good three or four weeks ago. The projections are about 90,000 by the end of the fiscal year. We're talking about unaccompanied children.

In terms of how they are getting here: So many of them are just invisible. Some people are being smuggled, some people are being trafficked, some people think that they are paying a smuggler and they end up being trafficked, some people come with other relatives. There are so many different stories. And I think there are a lot of actors that are actually exploiting the fact that these children are increasingly vulnerable. And there are a lot of for-profit entities out there that are trying to profit [off] the children who are trying to leave.

Is the answer we just don't know? Is there a fog of information between Central America and the U.S. ?

Last year Mexico apprehended 5,500 [children] in the same year, 23,000 arrived to the United States, and I'm not including Mexicans in the 23,000 figure. These are all children from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Twenty-three thousand of them made it through Mexico without being detected.

In the wake of these trends, some lawmakers have called on increased southern border security for Mexico. What do you make of that?

I think that's a knee-jerk reaction, which is not entirely inappropriate. But any conversation about increasing enforcement of other countries at points south has to include protection from sending people back to where they fear persecution or torture.

I've been reading that these children are coming north on rumors that the United States will let them in, that the Obama administration has lax policies toward minors. Did you find that at all in your survey?

We interviewed 404 children asking extremely open-ended questions as to the reasons and the nature of having left and what they were expecting when they arrived. Out of the 404, only 9 of them mentioned any kind of possibility of the U.S. treating children well. Two said "immigration reform"; one said "I hear they treat kids well." It's very general and from the perspective of a child. But only nine out of 404 said anything about that.

So what is attracting them to the United States?

First, I have to point out to you, it's not just the United States. That was a another red flag for us. There is an increasing trend to seek asylum in Mexico, which is much safer for them than where they are from. The number of asylum seekers in Nicaragua, in Belize, in Costa Rica, in Panama—all of that has grown 712 percent since 2008.

This is not the normal flow. For the U.N. refugee agency to register an uptick in asylum applications in places other than the United States is a huge red flag for us. People are leaving to places where they can find safety.

So what are the countries experiencing the influx?

The U.S, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Belize.

How many people have left El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala? I'm trying to imagine the long-term impacts of tens of thousands of young people leaving their homes behind.

We don't know how many people have left. I can generally signal how many have been picked up on the radar by the states. As of last month we have 45,000 adults who have indicated a fear of return to U.S. border officials. Of that number, approximately 70 percent of that 45,000 figure are from those same three countries.

These are just the folks who are claiming fear of return, getting that registered. This is what has actually hit the radar. We have no idea about how many people don't get intercepted by border authorities. There is no way for us to track the number of individuals that are part of regular migration-enforcement activities.

Already to be talking about a flow of over 100,000 people from three countries is quite alarming.

Are these refugees? Immigrants? Does the distinction matter?

What we learned from our empirical study was that 58 percent of the children we interviewed flagged an international-protection concern. Where we drew the line, was that these children feared return because of violence and insecurity. They feared harm to themselves, and had the single conviction that they could not be protected in their countries. So that was our most conservative lens that we could look at the numbers. We excluded entrenched poverty, we excluded everything else. So 58 percent of the kids, in a statistically significant pool of 404, we wanted to be able to extrapolate to have a significant pool, present international protection concerns.

So what does that mean? We did not interview them [to determine refugee status]. We interviewed them to find out why they left. We did a preliminary screening which to us was enough to say these individuals presented concerns.

Which means that if a country was to reject these people from their borders without allowing them any access to asylum protection or complementary protection processes, it actually would be in breach of the conventions.

Is the U.S. handling this well?

The U.S. is doing everything that I think it possibly can in this short-term context. We have really applauded that President Obama has recognized there is a humanitarian crisis, and that he engaged FEMA and has asked the Secretary of Homeland Security to respond. The machinery is in place, it's starting to move. The domestic response, in the short term, is doing the best that it can to get people out of the bottle necking facilities that are just not equipped to deal with this type of flow.

But what the U.S. could be doing better, is that this is really a regional issue. Each country is unique and if you look at the data in our report about what's happening in each country, you are going to see some clear difference. At the same time it's a regional challenge—people are leaving and they are going to points North, points South—it requires a regional response. It's not on the U.S. alone to solve. But were supporting it to recognize that there is a foreign policy element here to all of the challenges.

The humanitarian response is not going to solve the problem. The faucet has to be turned off or the water is going to keep flowing. To that end, the U.S. needs to address the root causes, and it has a role in addressing the root causes. First, on the top of the list, is to continue violence-prevention efforts—like job creation, education, strengthen women's counsels—do a lot more institution strengthening, more government programs.

What is the American media getting wrong about this story? Or, what's the take-home point we miss?

This is not a migration story. This is a humanitarian crisis, and an example of consequences of weak governments. It's a humanitarian crisis and a foreign policy issue. We're responding in a humanitarian way, and supporting the government to do so, but that's not going to shut off the faucet.

The normal migration patterns in this region have changed. While it is still a mixed migration flow—people are still coming for a number of reasons. There is a growing number of people who are literally fleeing for their lives.



For Immediate Attention
Contact: Rev. Miguel Rivera
(201) 637-9905
June 19, 2014

CONLAMIC National Latino Christian Pastors Pray for Representative Kevin McCarthy (CA) become GOP House Majority Leader

WASHINGTON, DC - The National Coalition Of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) is calling for "united in prayer on behalf of Kevin McCarthy" to become next GOP Majority Leader in the House.

"Congressman McCarthy is a decent man that has demonstrated a commitment to Comprehensive Immigration Reform. His leadership qualities brings him to the forefront at this time, when Republicans are in need of a leader that can unite and advocate for a more pragmatic legislative approach in the House", says the Reverend Miguel Rivera, CONLAMIC Board of Directors Chairman.

Members of the GOP Caucus will meet today at 2:00pm to proceed with a vote to replace Erick Cantor, after his resignation to the leadership post.

"There is a stronger internal momentum among many GOP members of Congress to move on with a sensible approach to immigration reform and Mr. McCarthy understands this very well and the need for legislation on this matter.

Chairman Goodlate has already said he is ready to move on for legalization and immigration reform. Having Mr. McCarthy as the Majority Leader will expedite such efforts and could very well help the GOP accomplish such enormous legislative task, before the end of the year", concluded Reverend Rivera.



Reverendo Miguel Rivera
Junio 17, 2014

Causa, Efecto y Negligencia Politica

Los medios de comunicación norteamericanos publican alarmados el incremento en numero de personas que a diario están cruzando la frontera sin visado y presentándose voluntariamente ante la Patrulla Fronteriza para ser procesados.

Las instrucciones de "mayor discreción" de la Casa Blanca  han sido perturbadas por una cadena burocrática inepta entre el liderato de la Patrulla Fronteriza, Agentes de Inmigración y  Aduana, quienes coinciden con sus acciones con la prensa ultra conservadora, ante la deficiencia de no exponer una declaración publica diáfana y contundente en referencia a su estrategia a seguir.

Esta situación perturba aun mas cualquier intento de conciliación entre los republicanos de la Camara de Representantes, en animo de proceder con legislación de reforma inmigratoria. Hasta el Congresista Demócrata Henry Cuellar, expresa su descontento y apatía ante estos acontecimientos.

Una letanía de política exterior errada contra nuestros vecinos países de Centro y Sur America, es la razón primordial que provocan estos sucesos.

EEUU ha tenido mayor esmero en la inversion de capital privado y desarrollo industrial entre los países comunistas asiáticos, antes de practicar por igual condiciones en America Latina.

Una ecuación de Corrupción Política, avance del Narcotráfico y Quebranto en la Comunicación Internacional Publica y de Gobiernos, agrava la situación, siendo que ante la falta de un diálogo elevado y de respeto mutuo entre los Gobiernos de EEUU y Centro-Sur America, se enajena la posibilidad de lograr estrategias de orden y diplomáticas que promuevan soluciones pragmáticas y sensibles a favor del desarrollo económico y politico de la region.

Una "conducta de ignorar y desconfianza" ha permeado las relaciones al punto que se manifiesta claramente la rotura o ineficiencia de comunicación entre EEUU y LatinoAmerica dando paso únicamente a los "intereses especiales".

El Cartel de "coyotes y narcotraficantes" demuestran mayor precisión en sus estrategias de filtración de las fronteras y manejo u opresión de la opinion publica, que los Gobiernos establecidos. De ahi que la noticia diseminada por toda la region es que "hay camino libre hacia Norteamérica.

La "compra" de ejércitos, fuerza policial y el mercado de drogas y humano, dicta cual interés capitalista, la agresión fronteriza y la expansion de una economía criminal ya no subterránea sino abierta al mejor postor, sin temor a las consecuencias.

Hasta las rutas desérticas, se han sustituido por abiertamente transportar ráfagas de personas de todas partes, cruzando el Rio Grande en embarcaciones de lujo y educando sus clientes a "entregarse voluntariamente sin temor a consecuencias o repatriación".

Los Centros de Detención están repletos a capacidad y el manejo de esta crisis fronteriza aparenta tomar por sorpresa las instituciones del orden publico que supuestamente velan por la soberanía fronteriza, afirmando que la estrategia de quienes implementaron la misma, resultan ser mas sagaces y de fiar, aumentando sus ganancias ilícitas por el contrabando.

Ante la ausencia y quebrantamiento de la Información Pública, sumado a directrices ineptas, dejan al descubierto una negligencia política que por décadas a corrompido el proceso legislativo del Congreso de EEUU.

Es evidente que el Sistema de Inmigración y Naturalización, incluyendo programas de Visas Pro Inmigración Legal ES OBSOLETO!

Un proceso legislativo efectivo de carácter por la renovación integral de una infraestructura administrativa inepta, amerita con urgencia ser implementado en union a cambios estratégicos en la política exterior de EEUU y Latino America.

Por mucho tiempo hemos abogado por esto y no existe escasez de opiniones pragmáticas y de alto calibre legislativo para traer soluciones a este dilema.

Sabemos que a fin de cuentas, la inversion privada de centros de detención es entre otras, el final de lo aberrante de esta situación, lucrando el erario privado y publico. Sabemos ademas que la deportación masiva, jamas se consideraría por sus costo exhorbitante.

Pero la Iglesia Cristiana, lejos de considerar los intereses económicos de quienes se lucran de esta desgracia social, mantiene una postura de "Alta Moral" sabiendo que, el derecho humano, la institución familiar y el respeto a la ley y el orden, obliga a NO QUEDARNOS CALLADOS.

¡El Silencio es Pecado!

Reverendo Miguel Rivera

Chairman de la Junta de Directores CONLAMIC.



Press Release - politico.com
By Seung Min Kim
June 10, 2014

Poll: 62 percent support pathway to citizenship

The U.S.-Mexico border is shown. | Getty
The data demonstrate support that crosses party lines and ideologies. | Getty

More than 60 percent of Americans back a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living here illegally — winning support from majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents, according to a sweeping new poll to be released Tuesday.

When it comes to undocumented immigrants, 62 percent of Americans believe they should be allowed to gain citizenship if they meet certain requirements, while 17 percent would support green cards but not citizenship for them. Meanwhile, 19 percent think the undocumented immigrants should be deported.

Split down by party, 70 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of political independents and 51 percent of Republicans said they supported a pathway to citizenship with requirements, according to the survey. The poll did not define what those specific conditions are, but requirements can include background checks and payments of fines and back taxes.

The data — from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute and the center-left Brookings Institution — demonstrates a level of support for immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship that cuts across party lines. But how to deal with the undocumented population in the United States, now estimated at 11.4 million, is a question that has long divided House Republicans.

“Even amidst inaction by Congress, support for a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally remains remarkably broad,” said Robert Jones, the CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute. “In today’s polarized politics, there are few major issues that attract this kind of bipartisan and cross-religious agreement.”

Among those who identify with the tea party movement, about 37 percent support a pathway to citizenship, while 23 percent support green cards but not citizenship and 37 percent believe all undocumented immigrants should be deported, according to the poll.

Congress has remained mired in gridlock over comprehensive immigration reform since the Democratic-led Senate passed a sweeping overhaul that included a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants. House Republican leaders ruled that bill as a non-starter in the chamber, but have struggled to produce their own legislation.

Other legalization planks are even more popular, according to the poll. For instance, about 68 percent of Americans would support a path to legal status for young undocumented immigrants if they attend college or join the military.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) signaled in an interview last month that the GOP leadership has not ruled out acting on a legalization measure targeting those young immigrants if they enlist in the military. Republican leaders blocked a vote attaching that bill, called the ENLIST Act, to must-pass defense authorization measure last month.

Pollsters also measured the potential political impact of immigration reform for political candidates — specifically for Republicans.

Just 21 percent of GOP voters said they would be more likely to support a candidate who opposes immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, while 46 percent said they would be less inclined to support such a candidate and 30 percent said it would make no difference.

“Even among Republican voters, opposing immigration reform carries more political risk than benefit,” the report said.

The poll interviewed 1,538 adults via telephone between April 7 and April 27, and the margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points. The individuals surveyed in Tuesday’s poll were also interviewed during a similar initiative by the Public Religion Research Institute and Brookings in 2013.

Short URL: http://politi.co/1l2CVn3


For Immediate Attention
Contact: Reverend Miguel Rivera
(201) 637-9905
June 9, 2014

CONLAMIC Christian Pastors Object to Supreme Court Decision on Undocumented Children!

WASHINGTON, DC - The National Coalition Of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) "rebukes" Supreme Court decision on children 21 years old and because of the dysfunctional immigration system.

"It is NOT FAIR, that parents and children who have been waiting and having the run around for many years and after much red tape children reach the age of 21 years old, are being forced to start at the end of the line.

Families are being punished because of a broken and obsolete immigration system and this judicial opinion makes it harder for such families to accomplish legal status together and pursue happiness as a whole", says the Reverend Miguel Rivera, Chairman of the Board of Directors.

CONLAMIC Christian Pastors are also disappointed that a Barack Obama nominee Justice Elena Kagan, was the decisive vote on a 5 to 4 split decision.

"The Obama Administration promised immigration reform in the first year which was not complied with, happens to be a Deporter in Chief because of thousand more than any other President broken families deportations and now becomes a Spoiler in Chief, supporting and advocating for these actions, promoting further suffering, anxiety and unfairness against the undocumented immigrant families, struggling to stay together", concludes the Reverend Rivera.



Rev. Miguel Rivera
Mayo 28, 2014


El pedido por el Presidente Barack Obama a NO implementar nuevas reglas pro mas discreción en las deportaciones, emitido la semana pasada y revelado a nosotros ayer en Washington DC, "es una oportunidad para que los republicanos de la Camara de Representantes, aprueben una legislación de legalización y reforma inmigratoria, antes del receso congresional.

Sabemos que el Portavoz John Boehner esta comprometido con buscar una solución propia a este dilema. El llamado es a "Legalización Ahora".

Aunque el Líder de la Mayoría Congresista Eric Cantor detuvo la posibilidad de promover la discusión y debate de medidas y anteproyectos de esta índole, eL llamado es a "Legalización Ahora".

La presión que reciben decenas de Congresistas Republicanos a tomar acción sobre este particular esta haciendo su efecto positivo y creemos que la estrategia de la Casa Blanca en buscar la confianza del Congreso y dar mas tiempo para que se logre un consenso, es prudente por el bienestar de millones de hermanos indocumentados y sus familias, que esperan ansiosamente por "papeles y permisos de trabajo".

Las últimas noticias que recibimos de regiones fronterizas (Texas, Arizona, Nuevo Mexico) en relación al incremento de "arrestos por razón de aumento en el cruce fronterizo ilegal", confirma la necesidad de mayor recursos para aumentar la vigilancia, y asegurar sectores porosos de la frontera.

El Proyecto aprobado por el Senado promueve mayor incremento de fondos federales para aumentar el número de Agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza. Sin embargo, el ofrecimiento de permitir la ciudadanía para quienes cualifican es considerado una "Amnistía" por la Camara de Representantes y es ahí donde esta el "impasse" actual.

La Coalición Nacional Latina de Ministros y Líderes Cristianos (CONLAMIC) endosa toda iniciativa de solución pragmática a este "impasse", con un llamado legislativo de "Legalización Ahora".

Miles de hermanos inmigrantes, están es espera de asegurar el futuro de sus hijos y mejorar la calidad de vida de sus familias, mediante su deseo de trabajar, iniciar negocios, pagar impuestos y lograr el máximo de felicidad mediante la libertad ofrece esta Nación.

Legalizar su status y aun ofrecer voluntariamente sus vidas al servicio militar, es demostración del compromiso que estos anhelan asumir de poder tener la oportunidad.

El aprender el idioma y conocer los conceptos de vida cívica y cultural, es un apetito común demostrado por miles de estudiantes de buena conducta y exitosos académicamente, quienes llegaron al país con sus padres y adoptaron esta como su patria.


El Portavoz Boehner puede y debe permitir que el proceso parlamentario siga su curso, llegar a conferencia legislativa con el Senado y finalizar el 2014 con el éxito de una reforma inmigratoria en acorde con la opinión publica.

LEGALIZACION AHORA, establece orden social a favor de quienes han asumido responsabilidad cívica moral, aun sin documentos. Estos son los que su record demuestra que la integridad de su conducta es la mejor garantía de su agradecimiento y compromiso de cumplir con las leyes de este país.

El secreto para el consenso legislativo esta es esta quizás la “última opción" antes de perder la oportunidad y esperar una década mas mientras familias enteras siguen sufriendo los embates de la separación y frustrante limbo legal.

La oportunidad de ciudadanía puede ser discutida y resuelta mas adelante.

¡LEGALIZACION AHORA es la ultima solución!



For Immediate Attention
Contact: Rev. Miguel Rivera
(201) 637-9905
May 28, 2014

National Latino Pastors call for Legislation and Comprehensive Solution to Gun Control

WASHINGTON DC - The National Coalition Of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) calls for "comprehensive legislation to enact universal gun control check reports and restrain gun ownership to mental patients".

"This late abhorrent catastrophe where a mental patient since eight (8) years old, incur in the massacre style murders of innocent young children in California, should bring back the gun control debate and proceed immediately with legislation that will curb once and for all, authorizing the ability for parents, spouses and medical professionals to seek judicial restraining orders against ownership by such individuals" says the Reverend Miguel Rivera, Chairman of the Board of Directors.

A Resolution to this effect was duly approved to promote an advocacy effort among evangelical and christian Latino Pastors, urging Churches to send a strong message from the Faith Community to Members of Congress and State Legislatures to "take action and stop the carnage happening around the Nation".

"There is NO Reasonable Explanation, why Parents, Physicians and Judges are lacking necessary empowerment to Seek & Issue Restraining orders, that will compel a voluntary surrendering or confiscation of weapons out of the hands of mental patients", further says a letter sent to the Attorney General Eric Holder.

"Pastors around the Nation need to engage and take leadership, preaching, counseling and advocating for such legal efforts.

Is the moral immediate action to convey to our Members of Congress and further empower Law Enforcement Resources to act, with the understanding that such individuals are to be restrain from harm among themselves and others", concluded the Reverend Rivera.