FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Unaccompanied Migrant Children

by

“Why can’t we just send them back?”

This has been the question (and solution) posed by many Americans, including our Congressional representatives, in response to the influx of unaccompanied migrant children at the southern border. Given the recent debates over immigration policy in the United States, this response is not particularly surprising, but the irony has become too thick to ignore.

A mere three months ago, a militant group called Boko Haram allegedly kidnapped over 200 young girls from their school in Northern Nigeria. Americans hastily began spreading the word of this tragedy and denouncing the actions of Boko Haram members. Through the use of the latest and greatest political tool – social media – celebrities and political leaders alike posted images of themselves holding signs that read: Bring Back Our Girls. As a nation, we felt both united and appalled on behalf of these innocent African schoolgirls. “Bring them back!” we cried. Yet when the world’s most desperate children, fleeing gang violence, starvation, and rape are placed on our front doorstep, we say: “send them back.” I’m no mathematician, but something doesn’t add up.

For starters, the United States prides itself on being the land of the free, a protector of those who cannot protect themselves. We are quick, if not the quickest, to condemn those nations that fail to uphold basic and internationally recognized human rights. Unlike thosecountries, we are the melting pot where all people may come and live freely. This is the very reason we are proud to be American and the core of our self-proclaimed identity. How is it possible, then, that Americans are blissfully unaware of the actual definition of human rights?

One need not be an expert in refugee law to understand the topic, but in the spirit of brevity, it would suffice to simply be aware of its central underlying principle: non-refoulement. This French term means, literally, “do not return them.” It also means that all (yes, all) immigrants have a right to remain in the United States if their home country’s government is failing to protect them from certain types of harm. This is a legal right, and it is no less concrete than the freedom of speech, press, and association found in the Constitution. It is nothing new. Decades ago, our country signed on to the United Nations Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and consequently the obligation to protect refugees fleeing persecution. The text of our own domestic immigration laws mirrors the principles found therein as well. So when a United States Congressperson says we should send these refugee children back to the violence from which they have fled, it doesn’t just sound harsh – it sounds unintelligent.

But it doesn’t stop there. Some elected officials have even claimed that these children are flowing into our country due to the Obama administration’s recent implementation of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Politics aside, this is borderline comical. I cannot speak for all immigrant children, but I can speak for many. Aside from the fact that DACA would not apply to these children, they possess no awareness of “deferred” action, nor are they motivated by the administration’s enforcement measures, or lack thereof. They are fleeing Central America, home to the most dangerous countries in existence. And that’s not emotionally fueled hyperbole. According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Honduras consistently tops the charts as having the highest per capita murder rate in the world. This ranking is a direct result of the country being controlled by criminal organizations, such as the Maras gangs, which extort “rent” from hardworking families. In the United States, we pay rent in exchange for a living space. In Honduras, you pay rent in exchange for your life and for the lives of your children.

Indeed, the trip through Mexico is also perilous, with children often riding atop trains and encountering rape, extortion, and abuse along the way. What good parent would send their child on such a formidable journey? Well, probably a parent who doesn’t want their child to remain in the most dangerous country in the world. There is no question that our treaty obligation – a promise to protect refugees – applies to every single migrant child sitting in a Texas detention center right now. They have reached American soil, and they have a right to receive protection if they qualify for it. This is not an argument based on morality – it is simply the law. The very idea of an undocumented immigrant crossing the U.S. border carries a stigma of criminality, but therein lies the paradox: if we send them back without a chance to be heard, we are the ones breaking the law.

Still need more irony? Pay a visit to the Statue of Liberty. You will undoubtedly see the words, beautifully engraved: “Give me your tired, your weak, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Kara Kelly is Vice President of the Immigration Law Students Association.

February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The Greatest Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail