It seems to me…
“A lasting solution, the possibility to begin a new life, is the only dignified solution for the refugee himself. “ ~ Poul Hartling, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 1978‑1985.
The U.S. has a humanitarian crisis on its border. Apparently the majority of conservatives do not know the difference between an immigrant and a refugee or have made it very clear they do not care. Many of the people arriving at our borders, especially the unaccompanied children, are desperately fleeing anarchy in their home countries.
Immigrants generally come to the U.S. to either join family members who already live in this country or are “economic immigrants” seeking work and a better life for themselves and their families. The term refugee was defined by the 1951 Geneva Convention as an individual who leaves one’s country to settle in another due to restriction or danger to their lives such as fear of persecution caused by war, violence, political instability, aggression, or due to their religion, beliefs, caste, or political opinion[i].
In addition to the tens of thousands of families that arrived at our southern border within the last nine months, more than 57,000 minors, some as young as 4 mostly from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, also arrived. This exodus from Central America is driven by gang violence and rampant crime in their home countries. Many are fleeing sexual assault, kidnapping, and death threats. Just in Guatemala, Doctors Without Borders estimates that 10,000 rapes are committed a year.
When migrants leave for the U.S. on what frequently is a month-long 1,000-mile journey, they are further exposed to muggings, thefts, kidnappings, and rapes, according to a news release from Doctors Without Borders. A United Nations report of people treated in central and southern Mexico from July 2013 to February 2014 found that more than half, 58 percent, experienced violence on the journey indicating need for international protections.
The U.S. under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, recognizes that some children have legitimate fears of violence, abuse, or exploitation if returned to their country. The law requires that children from non-contiguous countries (Mexico and Canada) be transferred to shelters and eventually released to parents or responsible adults while they await hearings that currently can be delayed up to two years on their claims or for deportation. Conservatives are attempting to revoke this law demonstrating their complete lack of compassion for what many of these children have endured.
In is difficult to navigate between recognizing legitimate public concerns about a sudden influx of refugees and wanting to show compassion for those who say they are seeking sanctuary. Immigration advocates say the children would be sent back to their deaths at the hands of vicious gangs in parts of Central America.
Not only have President Obama, members of Congress, governors and local officials been buffeted by demands to stop the flow of refugees by cracking down and returning arrivals to their home countries, they also have faced passionate calls for the humane treatment of children who attempted to escape risks at home and took still additional risks to reach the United States.
Hopefully the eloquent words of Emma Lazarus inscribed on the Statue of Liberty “Give me your tired, your poor …” still has meaning. No, we cannot open our doors to everyone throughout the world seeking a better standard of living, but our nation always has shown compassion to those fleeing their country with legitimate concern for their life and safety.
The number of refugees allowed to legally enter the U.S. was reduced following 911 from 90,000 to 70,000. Perhaps that limit should be again returned to the 90,000 number – and 90,000 actually admitted.
That’s what I think, what about you?
[i] Immigrant vs. Refugee, Diffen, http://www.diffen.com/difference/Immigrant_vs_Refugee.