They were fleeing violence–the border crisis continues

Updates 10/16/14
Human Rights Watch Report: Deported migrants returned to danger
DemocracyNow! Migrant Women, Children Allege Harsh Conditions, Sexual Assault at For-Profit Texas Immigration Jail
Biased Reporter Clinton finally admits role in Honduras Coup aftermath

The media has moved away from covering the border crisis, but the story has not gone away.

As I first wrote in June when the media was paying some attention to the current crisis, thousands of children have been coming to America from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, fleeing violence and poverty.  Obama’s reaction was to ask for the authority to speed up deportations, changing a 2008 law protecting children from human traffickers.  The Republican Party that calls on Obama and Democrats to “secure our borders” and at the same time won’t pass any bills because their excuse is “we can’t afford it” rejected Obama’s request for $3.7 billion in funds for emergency needs including:

building more detention centers, adding immigration judges, and beefing up border patrols and air surveillance.

In the end the House GOP only considered giving the Administration $659 million in their border bill, but couldn’t even get enough votes in the House for that to pass before leaving for their August vacation.

Now we have new evidence of the reality of the violence these children were fleeing.  42 children have been killed in Honduras since February, and reports show that between 5 to 10 of them were deported after fleeing to America.

Most media reports that discuss the possible reasons why so many children are fleeing will discuss gang violence and American drug use as issues, as well as poverty in these countries.  While they are correct they are missing a key issue that only some responsible people are reporting, and that I brought up in my initial piece on the border crisis (updated to reflect more recent news stories), the 2009 coup in Honduras.

U.S. support of brutal regimes in Guatemala and Honduras fuels the violence and instability that makes life unbearable for ordinary citizens. The U.S. government supported the 2009 military coup in Honduras, and continues to support the illegal coup government there.

The coup is not even listed as an issue in a CRS report on the current crisis.

We knew that these children were fleeing violence.  Now they are being killed as we deport them, but the media has turned its attention to other issues.

                                                                                                          Photo Credit

This excellent article documents the effects that a long history of US foreign policy in the region has had on these countries, and gives some ideas on how to solve the problem for real instead of continuing to throw money at the border, a band-aid solution to our foreign policy cancer.

How U.S. foreign policy in Central America created the child border crisis

The U.S. government has a history of standing on the wrong side in conflicts in the region, consistently supporting dictators over democratically elected officials. Too frequently, America intervened in favor of U.S. business interests to the detriment of Central American civil society.
For more than 60 years, U.S. foreign and economic policies in the region have greatly contributed to increasing desperation there. Most Americans will never see firsthand the impact of misguided, failed foreign and economic U.S. policies that result in the fears that Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans face daily. What Americans do see is the arrival of children at the border — a consequence of billions of U.S. tax dollars wasted over decades propping up generals and oligarchs.

continued (emphasis mine)

U.S. support of brutal regimes in Guatemala and Honduras fuels the violence and instability that makes life unbearable for ordinary citizens. The U.S. government supported the 2009 military coup in Honduras, and continues to support the illegal coup government there….This is not a border crisis.

Putting the Central American Children’s Migration In Context La Prensa San Diego

As Illinois Senator Richard J. Durbin put it, “let’s take care that we don’t send them back into a deadly situation.” Our decent treatment of these children reflects our core values as a nation and is simply the right thing to do.


For decades, U.S. governments supported unspeakably brutal regimes and poured billions into maintaining them ($5 billion in El Salvador alone). Implacable opposition to communism—often defined as virtually any reformer—gave these regimes a blank check. The result is a legacy of dealing with your opponents through extreme violence and a culture of impunity. Judicial systems remain weak, corrupt, and often completely dysfunctional.


Critics charge that President Obama’s immigration policy is at fault today for providing an illusion that if children arrive here they will be allowed to stay….In a recent UNHCR survey of 400 child migrants only a single child mentioned new US immigration policies as the reason he came.


As a start, we need to do two things: first, insure that the rights of the children fleeing to this country are fully respected and that they are treated humanely. This approach would be in the finest traditions of the US and live up to the values we prize.

Second, a long-term Central American-style Marshall Plan is essential to address the structural, economic, and social problems these countries face. And, even then, we must realize that it will take decades to insure strong, sustainable development.

Washington Post March 11, 1999 Clinton: Support for Guatemala Was Wrong

President Clinton expressed regret today for the U.S. role in Guatemala’s 36-year civil war, saying that Washington “was wrong” to have supported Guatemalan security forces in a brutal counterinsurgency campaign that slaughtered thousands of civilians.


The record of the Guatemalan security forces was laid bare in a report released Feb. 25 by the Historical Clarification Commission, which grew out of the U.N.-sponsored peace process that ended the war in 1996. The commission said the Guatemalan military had committed “acts of genocide” during the conflict, in which 200,000 people died.

another “Deporter in Chief” (emphasis mine) see Politico article on Obama

But he did not grant one key request from this region’s leaders, who want the United States to cease or slow deportation of undocumented Central Americans, many of whom send money to relatives in their impoverished homelands.

“We must continue to discourage illegal immigration,” he said. “We must enforce our laws.”

continued (emphasis mine)

in San Salvador, Clinton alluded to the brutal civil wars and insurrections that killed thousands of people in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and, to a lesser degree, Honduras, in recent decades. He did not, however, apologize for U.S. support for the Salvadoran military in the 1980s, which totaled billions of dollars during a war that cost 70,000 lives. 

Some Recent updates

ACLU sues Obama Administration

(paragraph is edited out of order by me)

on August 22, the American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and National Immigration Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of M.R.R., six other women, and three children being detained at FLETC. The suit claims that the government is running a “deportation mill,” which threatens the lives of detainees who are being denied due process and substantive protections.

continued (out of order)

The father of M.R.R.’s children was stabbed to death, but the gang that killed him wasn’t satisfied. They continued to send death threats to M.R.R. and her kids. Terrified and traumatized, the family fled their native Honduras for the United States.
M.R.R. and her children have viable refugee claims under international law, but the U.S. government is refusing to follow its own asylum protocols, designed to protect those imperiled in their home countries. So M.R.R. and her children are languishing in an immigration jail.

September 3, 2014 North Carolina Congressman: Reports Of Murdered Children Shouldn’t Slow Deportations

First term House Republican Robert Pittenger (R-NC) is running unopposed for another term representing North Carolina’s 9th District.

“It’s the most egregious, awful crime and a pity, what has happened to these young children,” he told ThinkProgress. “But do you want to open up America’s doors to the entire world? We can’t handle the healthcare and education today for our own population! We have to be sensible about what we our system can manage. So you put them on planes and you send them back.”

September 6, 2014 Excerpt from the statement from AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) on Obama’s announcement that he will delay executive action on immigration until after the election

Through this decision to delay, President Obama has broken yet another promise to immigrants, their families, U.S. businesses, and a community largely responsible for his even having a second term. This President, who has deported more people in 5 years than any other, who has doubled down on the jailing of women and children, who has tried to gut the protections we have for trafficked children, who has failed to curb the unjustified denial of legitimate business applications or provide promised incentives to encourage entrepreneurship, has now joined the House of Representatives in profound failure regarding our immigration system.

Other resources
CRS Unaccompanied Alien Children—Legal Issues: FAQ July 18, 2014 

CRS Processing Flow Chart

CRS Potential Factors for Immigrating

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