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Watch 3 of Our Unaccompanied Children Clients Testify Before Congress

Below are the details on when 3 of our unaccompanied children clients will testify before Congress on why they fled their native countries, how they were subjected to unconscionable conditions in the custody of DHS, and why they cannot return.

Additionally, the video below is of Mayeli, one of the children who will testify at the hearing.



July 24, 2014

Press Contacts:

Dan Lindner (Grijalva) – (202) 225-2435

Mike Casca (Ellison) – (202) 225-4755

 Congressional Progressive Caucus Ad-Hoc Hearing

Kids First: Examining the Southern Border Humanitarian Crisis


WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, July 29th at 2:00 PM, the Congressional Progressive Caucus will hold an Ad Hoc Hearing in 2322 RHOB to receive first-hand testimony from unaccompanied minors and expert witnesses stressing the importance of prioritizing the best interests of these children.


The United States and the international community has long recognized the unique needs of children seeking asylum. As an extremely vulnerable population, unaccompanied migrant children need special care and protection. Abrogation or repeal of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, including the protections to children arriving from non-contiguous countries, will do nothing to alleviate the situation and could place children in harm’s way.




Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)

Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN)

Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA)

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-MD)

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO)


Panel 1: Children in Crisis:

12 year old child from Honduras

15 year old child from Guatemala

15 year old child from El Salvador


Panel 2: Experts Addressing the Crisis

Jessica Jones, Children and Youth Policy Advocate, Lutheran Immigration Refugee Services

Adriana Beltrán, Senior Associate for Citizen Security, Washington Office of Latin America

Megan McKenna, Communications & Advocacy Director, Kids in Need of Defense



Congressional Progressive Caucus Ad Hoc Hearing

Kids First: Examining the Southern Border Humanitarian Crisis



Tuesday, July 29th

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM



2322 Rayburn House Office Building



Dear KIND: No Child Should Be Deported to a War Zone

No child fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras should be deported back to a war zone.

Yet many claim that the only children that should be able to stay in the United States are those that qualify for legal protections. The latter position is unacceptable because it puts the lives of children at risk.

Even if a child has not been harmed or threatened in the past, there is a significant possibility that that child will be harmed upon deportation given that universally violent conditions that are present throughout the countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

Kids In Need of Defense (“KIND”) is a non-profit organization that has helped thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America remain in the United States. Their work is necessary and we have great respect for what they do.

However, we must strongly condemn a recent statement that KIND made through social media:

While many unaccompanied children have viable claims for U.S. protection, KIND recognizes that a number of others do not, and that they must return to their home countries.

KIND helps ensure that unaccompanied children are returned safely to Guatemala and that they have access to vital services upon their return.

We cannot return children back to war zones, even if they do not qualify for legal protection in the United States. We must be honest.

Children cannot be returned safely back to places where there is no government to protect them.

As attorneys that represent over 150 unaccompanied children from Central America, we know that a significant number will not ultimately qualify for asylum under U.S. law. We would never tell our children clients to return to Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador, even if the child was denied legal protection in the United States. Why?

Because their home countries are extraordinarily dangerous. Children are routinely gunned down, tortured, raped, or enslaved in territories run by sadistic maniacs. The governments of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador do not exist. Chaos reigns.

KIND should continue its great work and defend all children from harm. This means that no children from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador should be deported.


Obama: “I will lie about U.S. Law to harm the lives of refugee children.”

The Obama administration is lying to children and their families to prevent them from saving their own lives.

In a post titled “CBP Addresses Humanitarian Challenges of Unaccompanied Child Migrants” CBP writes two unequivocal lies:

The message from the U.S. government on immigration is clear—if you cross illegally into the U.S.:

  • you cannot earn a path to citizenship;

  • you are not eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA;

  • you will not get papers that allow you to stay; and

  • you are putting yourself, or your child, in danger.


If a child fits the definition of a refugee under U.S. law, a child will be eligible to obtain asylum. A person with asylum is given papers and is allowed to stay in the United States indefinitely. A person granted asylum is also eligible to obtain a green card and therefore earns a path to citizenship.

If a child was abandoned, abused, or neglected by one or both parents, he or she is likely eligible for a green card as a special immigrant juvenile (“SIJ.”) A child granted SIJ is given papers and earns a path to citizenship.

Asylum and SIJ are designed to protect vulnerable children from being harmed in their native countries. Asylum is available for children and adults. SIJ is only available for children under the age of 21.

Many children who cross into the United States illegally obtain their green cards through asylum or SIJ.

The Obama administration is intentionally lying to refugee children by telling them that they are not eligible for protection under U.S. Law. Many are.

In fact, up to 80 % of the over 100 unaccompanied Central American children clients that we currently represent are eligible to remain in the United States permanently as refugees or as special immigrant juveniles.

Obama’s message is clear: He doesn’t care what happens to children in Central America. He will even lie to you about United States law to show how much he does not care.

Was your child raped? He doesn’t care.

Was your child tortured? He doesn’t care

Was your child’s life threatened by armed groups more powerful than the police? He doesn’t care.

If you believe your child’s life or well-being is at risk by remaining in your country, you should try to do whatever is possible to save your child’s life.

Do not listen the U.S. government. The Obama administration does not care about the welfare of your child.

In fact,  the Obama administration is trying  to harm your child. He wants to detain children in horrid conditions for weeks or months. He wants to speed up your child’s deportation so that they are not even given a chance to beg for their lives before an immigration or family court judge.

We believe you should bring your child to the United States if you believe his or her life is at risk.

Instead of trapping children in dangerous environments in their native countries, we should open up legal channels for Central American Refugee Children to come to the United States.

Telling children to remain in a place where they could be killed or harmed is nothing short of evil.



Mainstream Media: Brown Children as Carriers of Disease

The Blaze first reported one June 24 that ” A young illegal immigrant child from Central America was diagnosed with swine flu Friday after crossing the Texas-Mexico border…”

To the Blaze’s credit, they later noted that the H1N1 virus experiencing an uptick this year.

However, the conclusion to be drawn from this article–that immigrant children are carrying diseases from their native countries into the United States–is completely unfounded. 1 or 2 out of approximately 50,000 children coming down with the “predominant” strain of flu present in the U.S. in 2014 is not news.

It is fear mongering.

Indeed, the child may have contracted the H1N1 virus after he or she entered the United States.

Thus far in the 2013-14 Flu Season, the CDC has confirmed 28,357 cases of the H1N1 virus in the United States. That means that more than 28 thousand individuals had already contracted the H1N1 before the one or two immigrant children did.

Ruben Navarrette followed up on the Blaze’s report with an article to add to the dehumanization of immigrant children by falsely claiming that:

Now H1N1 may be back. It has been delivered into our air supply by unsuspecting pint-sized carriers who have endured a lot of pain, sacrifice and suffering to get here and whose fate is still unclear.

No, H1N1 has not been delivered into our air supply by children from Central America. In fact, the prevalence rate of confirmed cases of H1N1 viruses compared to the whole U.S. population of 313.9 million is higher than the rate of unaccompanied children who have entered the U.S. so far in this fiscal year.

At most,  2 out of 50,000 unaccompanied children  have been infected with H1N1, which equates to a 0.003 % prevalence rate.  When compared to the population at large in the U.S., the  prevalence rate of individuals infected with H1N1  is significantly higher at 0.009 %.

There is zero evidence that children from Central America are bringing in communicable diseases into the United States. One cannot bring something to the United States that is already here.

Stop demonizing children. One or two kids came down with the Flu. That is not news. That is fear mongering.

Open Letter to Congress: Reject Obama’s Request For Expedited Removal of Central American Children

Below is a message that we have sent to several members of Congress. Please feel free to use the text for your own letter to Congress:

“I am writing to urge Congress to do all that is possible to deny President Obama’s request to give DHS ‘additional authority to exercise discretion in processing the return and removal of unaccompanied minor children from non-contiguous countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.’

We have over 100 unaccompanied Central American children as clients.  These children should not be subject to expedited removal. DHS is incapable of properly screening children for relief from removal.

If President Obama’s request is granted by Congress, thousands of children will be sent back to concrete harm in their native countries. Many of our clients are victims of sexual abuse, gang violence, and/or domestic violence. These children are often unable to speak about their past experiences, even in a safe place in front of their adult caretakers.

These children should be protected. Political considerations should not blind us to the need to protect children fleeing from concrete harm.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Very Truly Yours,


Bryan S. Johnson, Esq.

A New Era of Darkness: Obama’s Attack on Child Refugees

On June 30, 2014, President Barack Obama wrote a letter to Congress requesting, among other things, “additional authority to exercise discretion in processing the return and removal of unaccompanied minor children from non-contiguous countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador”

In other words, Obama wants to break the shackles of current law that  requires the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to transfer unaccompanied children from Central American countries to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement within 72 hours of apprehension. Under current law, all unaccompanied children are in effect entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge to determine if they can stay in the United States.

With expedited removal, thousands of children will not be able to apply for protections under our current laws, such as asylum of special immigrant juvenile visas.

We know because we currently represent more than 100 unaccompanied minors from Central America.

DHS is not capable of screening children for legal relief. DHS’s job is to deport, not to advocate for the interests of children. Obama knows this.

Where the evil pours in is that Obama is keenly aware of the consequences of his actions:  Children will be sent back to their deaths. Children will be sent back to be raped. Children will be sent back to be abducted or sold into slavery. Children will be sent back to never be heard from again.  Children will be sent back to the places that only dwell in some of  our worst nightmares.

And for what? The  ever-illusory comprehensive immigration reform?  How would Obama feel if his two girls were summarily sent back to a place that is constantly convulsing with extreme violence. Where no one is safe? Where there is no rule of law?

To make matters worse, President Obama has misled the public about the consequences he knows will result from elimination of due process protections for children.

According to the New York Times:

White House officials said they were not asking Congress to change other existing legal protections for children apprehended without their parents. The administration is working with the governments of the three countries that are home to most of the migrants — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — to ensure the children are safe once they are returned, the officials said.

By asking Congress to give DHS the legal authority to expeditiously remove unaccompanied children, Obama IS asking Congress to change existing legal protections for children apprehended without their parents

The President is also misleading the public in claiming that his administration can ensure the safety of children upon return to their native countries.

The State Department has written extensively on how the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras do not have the ability to protect their own citizens. The U.S. State Department has been particularly emphatic on the problems that these three nations have with child abuse.

The 2013 Human Rights Report on El Salvador found that:

“Child abuse was a serious and widespread problem. Incidents of rape continued to be underreported for a number of reasons, including societal and cultural pressures on victims, fear of reprisal against victims, ineffective and unsupportive responses by authorities toward victims, fear of publicity, and a perception among victims that cases were unlikely to be prosecuted.

The report concluded that:

The principal human rights problems were widespread corruption; weaknesses in the judiciary and the security forces that contributed to a high level of impunity; and abuse, including domestic violence, discrimination, and commercial sexual exploitation against women and children.

The same report for Honduras also found that “Child prostitution and abuse” were ” human rights problems” and that ” Police, gangs, and members of the public engaged in violence against poor youths.” Overall, the report concluded that:

Among the most serious human rights problems were corruption, intimidation, and institutional weakness of the justice system leading to widespread impunity; unlawful and arbitrary killings by security forces, organized criminal elements, and others; and harsh and at times life-threatening prison conditions.

For Guatemala, the U.S. State Department found that “Child abuse remained a serious problem” and concluded that:

“Principal human rights abuses included widespread institutional corruption, particularly in the police and judicial sectors; police and military involvement in serious crimes such as kidnapping, drug trafficking, and extortion; and societal violence, including often lethal violence, against women.”

Do you see a pattern? Widespread institutional corruption within the judiciary and police which allows predators to hunt and hurt children with near 100 % impunity. These are the places that Obama wants to deport children back to.

Obama  cannot be serious in claiming he is working to ensure the safety of children upon return to Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador.

The abomination of sending children back to harm needs to be stopped.

Call or write to your Senators and Representatives to urge an end to the madness of harming children who are begging for our help. Help that we can and should give.

12 year old Mayeli, who entered the U.S. in 2013, on Telemundo’s Primera Edicion

Mayeli Hernandez is 12 years old. Her mother brought her  with her younger sister in July of 2013 to save their lives from the extraordinary danger pervades Honduras.

She and her sister will be able to reside in the United States permanently because they are Special Immigrant Juveniles (“SIJ”), which makes them eligible for Green Cards in the United States.

Unlike President Obama, Congress acted to protect children by expanding the amount of kids eligible to stay here as SIJ permanent residents in 2008.


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