March 3, 2017 (San Diego) The Donald J Trump administration is considering a measure that is reminiscent from other periods of history. This is to separate women and children who cross the border illegally. According to Reuters the reason behind this is to deter women who expect to be released fairly fast with their children from migrating to the United States.
Most of the immigrants these days are coming from the Northern Triangle in Central America. They are fleeing, gangs and violence and under a strict definition of the United Nations 1951 Convention on Human Rights, they could be considered refugees.
Why are they fleeing and taking the risks they are taking? Lisa Haugaard, Executive Director, Latin America Working Group, gave a briefing on “Representing Traumatized Central American Children and Mothers: Updates from Experts and Efforts to End Family Detention”
We are quoting partially from it:
The violence in Northern Triangle comes from many directions. Organized crime, gangs that control territory, common crime, domestic abuse, and corrupt and abusive state agents are some of the factors. The inability of governments to address this violence effectively, and the corruption and capture by organized crime of some parts of the state, leaves the population unprotected.
In many neighborhoods, gangs control territory and levy a “war tax” or “rent” on business owners, including small street vendors, taxi and bus drivers. Those who refuse to pay can be threatened or killed, their businesses or houses can be burned down, and their families are often targeted. Children and teenagers are pressured under threat of death or harm to their families to participate in gangs as lookouts, traffickers, or full-fledged gang members. Young women, teenage and pre-teen girls are sometimes forced into prostitution or forced into relationships with gang members. In El Salvador and Honduras, whole neighborhoods have been forced to displace due to gang violence. Young people in gang-controlled neighborhoods lack the support, jobs and opportunities, and protection that can shield them from gang recruitment.
People are fleeing the Northern Triangle which also has some of the most dangerous cities around the world, such as Tegucigalpa, in an effort to save their children. This policy of separating children from their parents is not just reminiscent of Nazi Germany, but will further traumatize already traumatized victims.
According to Reuters Henry Cuellar, a Democratic Member of Congress released this statement:
“Bottom line: separating mothers and children is wrong.That type of thing is where we depart from border security and get into violating human rights,”
The Congressman is correct since these people could be considered refugees under international law since they are fleeing conditions where they could qualify as refugees. This is even US Citizenship and Immigration Services has this on their website.
Every year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to:
- Membership in a particular social group
- Political opinion
Reuters is also correct to state that the 9th Circuit set the ground for this policy. Children are required to be released as fast as possible to guardians in the United States. Parents, however, are not.
This story though also is problematic since it violates international humanitarian standards. It violates American values. But the Barack Obama administration set the ground for some of this, as well as the courts. The aforementioned 9th circuit decision is Flores V Lynch, which ordered the release of both unaccompanied and accompanied minors from custody. It also ordered the transportation of unaccompanied minors to government facilities separate from adults upon arrest.
The decision did not touch on the length of detention for adults. Since the Trump administration is canceling the policy of catch and release, it is this court decision that will be used to separate children from their parents.
We would like to also note something else. This is data from the Border Patrol. Illegal crossings in just our sector, the Southwestern Sector have crashed. They are as low as they were in the early 1970s. So this is not due to masses of people crossing the border. Like other pieces of data, we are not being told the full story.