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.