UN, Progressives Urge Refugee Status for Migrant Children, while GOP Wants Speedy Deportation

UN Report on refugee children fleeing Central America
UN Report on refugee children fleeing Central America
UN Report on refugee children fleeing Central America

The least productive Congress ever was perfectly content to allow immigration reform to languish until next year, while they focused on getting their sorry asses re-elected. But then reality hit.

Mass migration of unaccompanied children from Central America brought the issue front and center. A little-known. bipartisan bill passed in the waning hours of the Bush Administration to protect children from sex trafficking is standing in the way of speedy deportation of 1000s of children, according to the New York Times.

While they languish in detention centers in Texas, Arizona, and California, more women and children cross the border — fleeing violence in their homeland and looking for family in the US.

Many powerful forces are at work to determine their fate…

Powerful Political Forces at Work

Crosses memorializing migrants who have died crossing the Arizona desert.
Crosses memorializing migrants who have died crossing the Arizona desert.

President Obama and Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson are working on getting emergency funding to process the children through the already strained and horribly cumbersome immigration system. Before 50,000+ immigrant children arrived, the immigration system was already backlogged and understaffed with 367,000 pending cases and only 243 immigration judges.

Republican leaders– including Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain and Rep. Matt Salmon— want to amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which would enable speedy deportation of children from non-contiguous countries.

On the other side of the aisle, the Congressional Progressive Caucus passed a resolution to protect asylum laws— like the 2008 bill the GOP wants to change. From the Huffington Post

“To see politicians oversimplifying this desperate plea for help as an immigration enforcement issue is concerning, and to see their willingness to weaken the protections of the [2008 law on unaccompanied minors] is even more so,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in a statement. “We must place the well being of these kids first. We should allow the protections in our existing laws to play their intended role.”

Aligned with the Progressive Caucus, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) earlier this week called for provision of legal representation for the refugee children, which was recommended by the 2008 law. From the New York Times [link includes video]…

“Instead, it [the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008] required that they [migrant children] be given an opportunity to appear at an immigration hearing and consult with an advocate, and it recommended that they have access to counsel. It also required that they be turned over to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the agency was directed to place the minor “in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child” and to explore reuniting those children with family members.”

The United Nations Steps In

On the international level, United Nations officials are urging classification of many Central American migrants  as “refugees displaced by armed conflict”. This designation would put pressure on the US to process the children differently and could result in many more of them staying in the US, rather than being sent home to violence and an uncertain future. The UN also called for a regional meeting of migration and interior department representatives from the US, Mexico, and Central America to be held on July 10 in Nicaragua. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss updating 30-year-old declaration regarding refugees.

From Fox News Latino:

“Officials with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees say they hope to see a regional agreement on that status Thursday…

“While such a resolution would lack any legal weight in the United States, the agency said it believes “the U.S. and Mexico should recognize that this is a refugee situation, which implies that they shouldn’t be automatically sent to their home countries but rather receive international protection.”

“Most of the people widely considered to be refugees by the international community are fleeing more traditional political or ethnic conflicts like those in Syria or the Sudan. Central Americans would be among the first modern migrants considered refugees because they are fleeing violence and extortion at the hands of criminal gangs.

“‘They are leaving for some reason. Let’s not send them back in a mechanical way, but rather evaluate the reasons they left their country,’ Fernando Protti, regional representative for the U.N. refugee agency told the Associated Press.”

The UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) released a report entitled Children on the Run in March 2014. (Report here.) It states unequivocally that the Central American children are refugees seeking asylum from violence. From the UNHCR…

“The UN refugee agency, in a report released on Wednesday, said it was concerned at the increasing numbers of children in the Americas forced from their homes and families, propelled by violence, insecurity and abuse in their communities and at home.

“Children on the Run, which was launched in Washington, DC, also calls on governments to take action to keep children safe from human rights abuses, violence and crime, and to ensure their access to asylum and other forms of international protection.

“With violence and insecurity permeating the Americas region, we found a strong link between this unabated situation, new displacement patterns and the children’s reasons for leaving their homes and families to flee northward. They escaped armed actors, generalized and targeted violence in their communities and abuse in their homes,” said Shelly Pitterman, UNHCR regional representative in the United States.

The report analyzes the humanitarian impact this insecurity has had on children, forcing them across international borders to seek safety on their own. Based on a 2013 study funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, “Children on the Run” unveils the humanitarian impact of the situation through interviews with more than 400 unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico held in US federal custody.

“It shows that the large majority of these children believed they would remain unsafe in their home countries and, as a result, should generally be screened for international protection needs by authorities along the way.

“A 17-year-old boy who fled Honduras told the UNHCR interviewers, “My grandmother is the one who told me to leave. She said: ‘If you don’t join, the gang will shoot you. If you do, the rival gang will shoot you, or the cops. But if you leave, no one will shoot you.'”

“A 14-year-old girl from El Salvador cited in the report, stated: “There are problems in my country. The biggest problem is the gangs. They go into the school and take girls out and kill them . . . I used to see reports on the TV every day about girls being buried in their uniforms with their backpacks and notebooks. I had to go very far to go to school, and I had to walk by myself. There was nowhere else I could go where it would be safer. I lived in a village, and it was even worse in cities.”

“The number of children making the perilous journey alone and unaccompanied has doubled each year since 2010. The US government estimated, and is on track to reach, 60,000 children reaching United States territory this year in search of safe haven.” [Emphasis added.]

A few of the ugly American protesters in Murrietta, California said that the US can’t possibly afford to take care of 1000s of migrant children and Moms and noted that the US can’t take care of its own children. Wall Street is at or near an all-time high. CEO pay and corporate profits have skyrocketed since the crash. The US has plenty of money. It’s just in the wrong hands. Tax the rich, and we can take care of all of the children– ours and the migrants.

Breaking News…

Rep. Luis Gutierez on Democracy Now talks about child refugees, US law, and why he supports funding to resolve their cases

Enrique Morones on Democracy Now talks about the hate-filled “Murrieta Moment” and humanitarian aid for the refugee children

Rep. Raul Grijalva urges support for child refugees on Huffington Post Live



  1. These children want to be here the democratic voting majority that voted president Obama in twice want the children to stay . Only Obama’s republican critics want to deport the children why is Obama listening to them?

    • I am disappointed that Obama is willing to trade this provision of the child sex trafficking law away just to help the Republicans look less scurrilous. I saw a chart in one of the research reports that showed when they passed that law in 2008, there were hardly any refugees from Central America. The law was easy to pass with nearly 100% Republican support, since there wasn’t much demand. Now that we have refugees, the GOP wants to close the door. Many of the same people who voted for it now want to change it because there is need.

      The people who vote against these children need to drop the God talk from their campaign rhetoric.

    • He is listening to them because he needs money from the House of Representatives to do what he wants to do. Remember the Constitution? All funding issues nust start from the House. Even Obama knows that.

  2. “The US has plenty of money. It’s just in the wrong hands. Tax the rich, and we can take care of all of the children– ours and the migrants.”

    Always the answer, hmm? Do you know why tax revenues go up when tax rates go down? (And they do virtually every time despite your protestations to the contrary). The wealthy spend less time moving their money where it is tax free. It isn’t worth the effort when taxes are reasonable. Not many of you will remember the early Kennedy years when the tax rate was 90% for the top bracket. Even Kennedy understood that was killing the goose that laid the golden egg and he spearheaded tax reductions. When he did, tax revenues jumped.

    Right now, there are dozens of tax provisions which could save me taxes but I don’t take advantage of them, not because I am a benevolent charity, but because I am comfortable paying the level of taxes I do and I am willing to do so. Raise those taxes where I am no longer confortable, and I will have my accountants use those provisions and others that will appear in the new law, and I will wind up paying less taxes that I do now. I am typical of taxpayers. And you will NEVER see a tax code written without those special provisions because your illustrious lawmakers don’t want to pay the extra taxes, either.

    Why do you think there are so many millionaire Democrats? They can be vocal about tax raises to the cheers of the rank and file, when possible they can pass tax raises again to the cheers of the rank and file and they can write those tax laws to exempt themselves, their friends and associates and even their colleagues across the aisle. “Tax Loopholes” don’t appear by magic…they are deliberately written into the law to protect the wealthy while allowing the average Democrat to feel smug and happy that they are “sticking” it to the rich.

    Just out of curiosity: How motivated would you be to work harder if every time you made more money, the Government took more money from you? At what point would you say, “Forget it!” Or, at what point would you start hiding money from the Goverment on a much larger scale than you are currently doinf it? You know what I mean: those garage sale profits, money from gifts, those poker nights, and the thousands and one ways you make a little money “on the side”. It’s taxable, you know? But of course, it isn’t that much and you already pay your fair share.

    • Two of the states that have gone full Tea Party with their tax cuts– Kansas and New Jersey– are crumbling because of lack of revenue. Sam Brownback’ “Kansas experiment” has failed. Those tax cuts have made the rich richer in those states but tax cuts have not created jobs.

      • Kansas is trying to eliminate income taxes and you’ve never heard me say that is a good idea. States need revenue to function and income tax is a major source of that revenue.

        As to New Jersey, I was unaware that they had done anything with their taxes except raise them. If Governor Christy got some tax relief passed, then good for him! I lived in New Jersey for a few years several years ago when I was in the Army. I made some good friends there and your note encouraged me to give them a call to see what was happening. None of them thought the State was in bad shape (except for property taxes, which are staggering) and they had not seen any problems that the State hasn’t always had. The Unions are demanding outlandish things, the education industry always demands more money and Newark and the State north of the Robeson Bridge are beyond help. They have been in recovery from the hurricane and the State economy is doing well. So when you say New Jersey is in shambles you should check your sources. AND you should ask which part of New Jersey you are talking about. Newark and Trenton and the strip along the north is a liberal wasteland.

        In any event, I stand by what I said. Raise taxes on the wealthy and less revenue will come into your Treasury. It happens every time.

  3. “the U.S. and Mexico should recognize that this is a refugee situation, which implies that they shouldn’t be automatically sent to their home countries but rather receive international protection.”
    International protection needs to come from more than the US & Mexico. Why is it that the majority of refugees look to the US to save them? There comes a time when we have to say No More!

    • Actually the UN is not suggesting that the US take in all refugees. Check out the Democracy Now link with Enrique Morones. The US has taken in many refugees, but certainly not all of them.

      In a previous story on this subject, I noted that tiny Jordan has taken in 600,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict.

      And as the AZ Blue Meanie reported, the US has played a LARGE role in the violence and poverty in Central and South America with our lust for illegal drugs, plus NAFTA, CAFTA, and imperialism.

      • “In a previous story on this subject, I noted that tiny Jordan has taken in 600,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict.”

        “Tiny” Jordan looks small on the on map, but it is large in land mass, almost all of which is harsh desert. There are considered uninhabitable and it is in these area that the refugee camps are located. The camps are armed enclaves encircled by the Jordanian Army and no one is allowed to leave the camps. The UN is paying Jordan large sums of money to take in these refugees and it is a profitable venture for them to do so. Jordan did not do this out of the goodness of their heart.

        Thirty years ago, Jordan took in some 300,000 Palestinians that are still living in similar camps today. The funding to support these camps comes from all over the Arab world because it keeps the Palestinians in the Middle East. It is also a good way to keep Palestinians riled up that they don’t have a homeland and they remain a thorn in the side of Israel.

        In both cases, there is never a discussion about assimilating these refugees, and there are always multi-layered reasons why things happen as they do. Do you suggest we build similar refugee camps in our deserts?

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