U.S. Border Crisis

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.

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About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
This entry was posted in Border, Canada, Central America, children, Deportation, Doctors Without Borders, El Salvador, Emma Lazarus, Guatemala, Honduras, Immigrant, Immigration, Medical, Mexico, North America, Refugee, South America, Statue of Liberty, Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, Violence and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to U.S. Border Crisis

  1. berlioz1935 says:

    Once again your voice is a voice of reason. Yours is a country that is build on a population whose forbearer have come to the US because they fled from countries were life was intolerable. They all arrived at Ellis Island within sight of Statue of Liberty from which you quote the inscription. Isn’t that ironic? The former immigrants slam the gate behind them.

    The same is happening here in Australia. While still taking new migrants we are very selective in regard to refugees. They are pawns in a political game called “Lets scare the voters”. We are actually lock up “illegal boat arrivals” in detention centres that are located on island, best described as “hellholes”, with no chance of ever been released.

  2. lewbornmann says:

    Unfortunately, this xenophobic response to immigration seems to be increasing in most of the advanced nations. It is not only in your country and the U.S., look at the recent election results throughout much of Europe. In almost every country, the party experiencing the largest percent increase in representation opposes immigration.

    Like most Americans, I am the descendent of immigrants. My paternal great-great-grandfather probably would be considered an illegal immigrant: he was with the Hessian military sent here to fight against the American Revolutionary Army. My maternal grandparents were recruited in Slovenia to work in the Pennsylvania coalmines. They never learned how to speak English (and probably never became U.S. citizens).

    While sympathetic to the plight of those seeking to escape the poverty prevalent in their native country for the promise of a better life here, I accept the necessity for them to abide by our immigration laws and apply to enter the country legally. That is how the majority of immigrants entered our country in the last 100 years (our first restrictive immigration law was passed in 1917).

    Yes, it is necessary to prevent terrorists, narcotic traffickers… from entering our country but refugees, especially unaccompanied children, are a different story entirely – and one rightwing extremists do not want to acknowledge. Refugees have a legal status set forth under a Geneva Convention agreed to by the U.S. and most other nations. The majority of these children do NOT attempt to enter the country illegally, they turn themselves in to the border patrol. I will not reiterate what these children are subjected to (some of it is in my blog) but it is difficult to imagine what it would take to make a child of twelve so desperate they would leave everyone and everything they know and travel 1200 miles just to improve their probability of not being murdered.

    No, the U.S. is not yet locking refugees on an island but conservatives are demanding everyone be returned home without any effort to determine their legal status. For some of these refugees, your island might be preferable.

    • berlioz1935 says:

      They literally going mad there. “Self harm” is a common occurrence. Their case is now before our High Court and we all hope it will decide in favour of the asylum seekers and against the cruel, almost fascist, government.

      • Lew Bornmann says:

        It is easy to be empathetic to what is happening in your country. While I continue to hope for a positive solution here in the U.S., it is highly possible that conservatives will win control of both houses of Congress in our November elections. If so, President Obama will truly be a “lame duck” president and progress not only increasingly difficult but erosion of any gains achieved under his administration highly likely.

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