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Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

-Emma Lazarus, Inscription on the Statue of Liberty

In recent weeks, attention has turned to the ongoing border crisis of the large number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border into the United States from various South Central American countries. This issue has fortunately brought the debate over immigration reform back onto the national radar. Even though the Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, it likely won't get a vote in Boehner's House of Representatives.

This issue is being framed mostly in light of the ongoing struggle over immigration reform. Which isn't such a bad move. After all, as Republicans come out with more and more insane and crazy rhetoric spurred by the border crisis, it stands to continue to hurt them politically with the minority vote.

However, for the longest time, this narrative has not quite jibed with me, and I'm beginning to realize where the dissonance lies.

The border crisis is not an immigration issue. It's a humanitarian one.

International refugee law defines a refugee as someone who seeks refuge in a foreign country because of war and violence, or out of fear of persecution. The United States recognizes persecution "on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group" as grounds for seeking asylum
According to the Refugee Act of 1980, the President of the United States has the power to allocate greater resources to accept and protect refugees in cases of emergency. I would argue the border crisis fits such criteria. I think moving forward, the onus should be on President Obama, and all the rest of our elected officials, to treat these children as refugees, and to respond to the border crisis as the corresponding humanitarian crisis.

We should never forget that these children are especially vulnerable victims; to treat them in any way that involves deporting them back to the horrific conditions which they were fortunate enough to flee, is a betrayal of core Democratic, and I would even go so far as to say American, principles of compassion for our fellow human beings, and an embrace of any and all who seek an American way of life.

By continuing to frame the border crisis as an issue of immigration, it draws inappropriate focus to the border and the legal status of these children, when the focus should ultimately be on how we go about helping these children back to tolerable living conditions.

I think the Congressional Progressive Caucus's response to the Border Crisis, like so many other examples, best exemplifies what values and messages the official Democratic response should reflect.

“The act of seeking asylum in the face of violence is not new, nor is it specific to just the United States, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva  (D-AZ) said. “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 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act is even more so.

“We must place the well being of these kids first. We should allow the protections in our existing laws to play their intended role. We should reassess the aid we send to nations with corrupt police and military forces to ensure we are part of the solution, not the problem,” Rep. Grijalva continued. “Most of all, we must realize that increased enforcement on our border is a solution in need of a problem, and proponents of militarization are using the plight of these kids to achieve their political agenda.”

“Thousands of children seeking refuge in our country are at risk, and this proposal puts their needs ahead of politics,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) said. “The solutions to this crisis must put the safety of the kids first and respect their right to due process under our nation’s laws.”

Among their recommendations, the CPC calls for allocating more funds to providing these children access to medical and legal aid, stronger investigative abilities of allegations of abuse while in custody, and establishing more oversight on how foreign aid sent to these countries is contributing to corruption and exacerbating the problems.

These children are refugees and should be treated as such. Though they are not the victims of any specific war, the atrocities and indiscriminate violence to which they have been subjected are just as real and plain to see as the War on Terror that Republicans have no qualms coining and combatting.

With the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States enshrined its commitment to the protection of refugees, and should be praised for it. It is time for Obama, the Democratic Party, and the country as a whole, to stand by its commitment to this value, and to its heritage as a nation founded by immigrants. After all, it is only in times of great crisis where laws like the Refugee Act truly prove their worth.

From a political standpoint, there is the argument that such amnesty-related policies could actually backfire for Democrats in the upcoming elections. Polling shows that the border crisis may lose immigration reform its support, and this could lead to motivating the, shall we say, less diverse and sympathetic voters of the conservative base out to the polls.

While I think this is definitely worth taking into consideration moving forward, I do not think this is such an impediment that the border crisis cannot be reframed in a humanitarian light that actually strengthens Democratic support, with the added benefit of providing more ammo to draw out Republican stupidity on the issue (has anyone pointed out to Perry that the Senate immigration reform bill that Boehner is refusing to bring to a vote actually includes allowing Obama to send the National Guard to the border).

While we should not leave conditions in a way that continues to encourage children to make this dangerous journey, we should also stand up and demand the strong response this serious issue requires, while also committing to treating these children as humanely as possible. I think the point should definitely be made that addressing the issue more as a humanitarian one, such as how the Progressive Caucus addresses it, rather than an immigration one, such as how the current bill being debated in Congress addresses it, is much more likely to address the root causes that have led to this crisis in the first place.

In a better world, I envision that these children really would gain many of the opportunities they hoped for when they began their dengerous journeys, that they feel is worth all the hardship, the sacrifices, and the perils. While we would not invite them with open arms and reward them for taking dangerous and illegal avenues, we would still treat them compassionately and use our resources to ensure they are able to live peacefully.

I envision these children contributing to and growing our economy, our society, our culture. And after they grow up and build their educations and develop relationships, they can return to their home countries and contribute there, too.

That this vision is more closely reflected by replacing more Republican politicians with Democrats, and that we can do something about that in November, should not be lost on others who feel as I do.

Originally posted to The Progressive Atheist on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 08:58 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Not exactly breaking news, but thanks anyway. (0+ / 0-)

    Anyone arguing that there's no difference between the parties is a fucking moron who can simply go to hell. -kos June 30, 2014

    by kacemo on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:09:37 AM PDT

  •  Would you keep every child that comes over (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lordcopper, hmi

    or would you send some back ?
    How would you decide the , keep/send back , question ?

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:11:01 AM PDT

    •  These are criteria set in place (14+ / 0-)

      by the UNHRC for determining whether someone is a refugee. I believe that is a good starting point.

      In the end, they are children, and I believe the US has some of the best resources available to help any child reach their full potential. It is in our best interests, and the interests of future generations, to make sure any and every child in our power reaches that potential.

      "In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

      by pierre9045 on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:21:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So a child from Mexico ? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lordcopper, Noisy Democrat, hmi

        Refugee or not ?
        Do you take in every child from Mexico ?
        Do you send back any from Mexico ?

        "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

        by indycam on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:43:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If they meet the criteria for refugees (5+ / 0-)

          you keep every single one.  That's real simple.  It's our obligation.  It's in our law.  The questions you ask really aren't even questions.  They are already settled points of law.

          If they aren't refugees, then they are returned in a humane way.

          •  Are children from Mexico refugees ? (0+ / 0-)

            If they are not , none of them are kept here .

            Please don't say "if they meet the criteria".

            I'm asking , are they or are they not ?

            "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

            by indycam on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 02:19:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You're not asking me, but my opinion, (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pierre9045, YucatanMan, howabout

              for what it's worth, is that ALL of them should be admitted as refugees.

              People forget how huge is the United States, how large is its population.  50,000 refugee children is NOTHING.

              I absolutely hate (although a Catholic is not supposed to hate) the many so-called Christian teabagger types who are attacking these innocent children.  They're going to burn in Hell.  (Although the ever merciful God will probably just make them spend about 100,000 years in Purgatory understanding the errors of their ways!)

              •  Is there some reason why (0+ / 0-)

                the United States becomes responsible for every refugee child fleeing inhospitable conditions? Is there some reason we are not demanding that Canada take its "fair share" of these refugees? Brazil? Argentina? Could we put some thousands of them on ships and send them to Sweden?

                •  Other countries take refugees from Iraq and Syria (0+ / 0-)

                  We are not alone in allowing those whose lives are endangered by gangs, terrorists, and thugs to seek refuge. As we speak, countries bordering Iraq and Syria are taking hundreds of thousands of people who would otherwise be murdered in their homelands.  

                   

                  •  It is a good thing that (0+ / 0-)

                    Iraqis and Syrians have been taken in by some of their neighbors.

                    I would still note first, that actual conditions of war are qualitatively different from uncomfortable levels of gang activity. Second, that taking in people fleeing directly across a border is conceptually different from taking in people who have crossed multiple borders because they have chosen your country to live in.

                •  I am responsible only for myself and my actions. (0+ / 0-)

                  For instance, if their are two hungry homeless children in the street in front of my house and I take one in but my neighbor is looking for his gun, do I insist he take one or do I do what my heart tells me to do and take both of them?

                  I do not think we should look at children as a burden. They are a gift.

                  •  That's a sweet sentiment (0+ / 0-)

                    but I'm skeptical of making it the basis for public policy. Children may well be divine gifts in the abstract, but in the here and now they are more problematic and, not incidentally, more expensive.

                     It's good of you to take in those two kids. But now, as parents begin leaving more and more children on your doorstep, did you wish to argue that you are morally obligated to care for them all? IMO, you are not. You did not cause their abandonment and your are not morally answerable for their rescue.

                    The community may voluntarily assume the care of children whose parents are unable, but that responsibility could only extend to children and parents who are members of the community. There is not and cannot be any generalized duty on the part of any one community to care for all the children of all other communities over the extent of all mankind.

        •  Case by case assessment (8+ / 0-)

          Most of the unaccompanied minors are coming from one of three countries: Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

          Your questions are meaningless, even if converted to speak of the countries that children are coming from. "So a child from Mexico? Refugee or not? Do you take in every child from Mexico? Do you send back any from Mexico?"

          The U.S. has a system for evaluating whether someone has a basis for asylum. Already, some children have been granted asylum. One case I came across was that of a Salvadoran girl, Beatrice (Betty), who fled at the age of twelve. A gang member demanded that she become his girlfriend or other gang members would rape her or kill her.

          Some of the factors that are considered: was this person persecuted in the home country? does this person have a well-founded fear of being persecuted if returned to that country? why were they targeted for persecution? who is persecuting them? will the local government/police protect them, or are they unwilling or unable to protect the child?

          These unaccompanied minors need representation at the hearings where they present their cases. There are no children or teenagers who understand immigration or refugee law well enough to present their own cases.

          If they meet the requirements set out in the law, then, absolutely, the U.S. should grant asylum to them and plan for them to remain in the U.S.

          •  And while all this goes on they need to be housed (7+ / 0-)

            and treated like the children that they are.  That does not mean locked up in a prison camp.

          •  Yes, and there are other possible forms of (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pierre9045, Sunspots, YucatanMan

            relief, such as deferral from deporatation due to Prosecutorial Discretion (PD).

            And several others.

            There are MANY ways to let these traumatized kids stay in the United States.

            It is EVIL that Obama is not standing up here to advance humanitarian concerns.  

            I really think he's on auto-pilot now.  He's not the man I voted for twice.  The answer here should be a no-brainer for him, and a big political winner, but he's still pandering to the super-right-wing hatred of foreigners.  Even though one of his parents was  a foreigner.

            I'm very angry about his cowardly and stupid response to this situation.

      •  There are literally thousands of American children (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blackhand, hmi

        living in similar conditions as those these children are fleeing.  What rights do they have?  Can they apply for asylum to some European country?  How can we declare someone a refugee when a substantial number of Americans are living in the same condition.

        "Because I am a river to my people."

        by lordcopper on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:53:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There are no American children fleeing (6+ / 0-)

          the worst of what happens in these countries.

          Not that there aren't a lot of heartbreaking and violent situations, but even in the worst urban (or deeply rural, for that matter) areas, no place has the complete lack of protection and the degree of gang violence and recruiting that some of these kids face.

          We have created drug gangs with the absolute power of life and death in some of these areas, and the states have no ability to protect their citizens.

          •  They are not fleeing because no govt will take (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hmi

            them.  Their own govt won't/can't stop the activities that cost them their lives in the crossfire, gang activity, or incarceration.  The same activity (drug trade) that create a violent environment in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador creates the same dangerous environments in Chicago, LA, Baltimore, Miami, etc.  Why are these kids worthy of your consideration, but not the kids right here at home?  They are no more refugees than a kid from inner city Houston trying to flee the crossfire.

            "Because I am a river to my people."

            by lordcopper on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 02:26:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Don't get the connection (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FloridaSNMOM

              Are you saying because we have needy children in the U.S., we shouldn't take in refugee children who live in desperate and violent circumstances.

              Unfortunately, the time will never come when all of our problems are solved.  Yet these children are here.  

              The question is what kind of a country do we want to be?  One that treats a humanitarian crisis for what it is, or one that turns its back on desperate children?  

              •  I'm saying these kids are not refugees because (1+ / 0-)

                they live in violent, poor societies because these very conditions are acceptable in some places in the U.S.  These children are not being persecuted for their race or religion, they just have bad options at home, just as too many kids here in the U.S. have to live with.  A kid from Honduras could literally be granted asylum in the U.S. only to be forced to join MS-13 in some U.S. city.

                Separating children from their parents is a drastic response to the problem.  It's cheaper, more efficient and easier, to restore law and order to their home countries.  You are choosing the "path of least resistance" in accordance with your values.  That path would be to grant asylum to every child from this region that presents himself, and the U.S Govt shouldn't intervene in the region. I would argue that a diplomatic/legal/military response that cures the problem at it's source keeps the families together, helps more children, and provides the basis for a stable country.  Even if a military response is central to that effort.

                "Because I am a river to my people."

                by lordcopper on Sat Jul 19, 2014 at 11:09:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Not Fleeing - Yet (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lordcopper

            The U.S. still has a social safety net, SNAP, free school lunches for our millions of poor children-- Honduras, etc., has nothing like this.

            Congress cutting funding to SNAP, chipping away at it as they have started to do-- will lead to more protests, more visibility of our poor.

            "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

            by Superpole on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 02:29:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  What do you mean by "similar conditions"? (6+ / 0-)

          What do you think are the reasons that so many children and teenagers are fleeing their homelands and going to other countries--not just to the U.S., but to Mexico, Costa Rica, and other Central American countries? The entry of unaccompanied minors is up by more than 700% in the other countries in the region (other than the U.S.).

          It isn't just a matter of violence in the home countries, although the level of violence is considerably higher than in American states.

          In 2012, the highest murder rate was 10.8 per 100,000 in Louisiana, the lowest 1.1 in New Hampshire, with an average of 4.7 for all states.

          In Honduras, the murder rate was 90.4 per 100,000 for the country, but it was 169 per 100,000 for one city. Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world; Guatemala and El Salvador are #4 and #5. These are not "similar conditions" to the U.S.

          The criminal gangs, including the drug cartels that moved from Mexico to set up shop in those countries, target young people in much the same way that armed groups in Africa force children to become child soldiers.

          And if the drug cartel wants you to work for them, you have two choices: do as you're told, or be murdered. That is, unless you make a run for it to any other place you think might be safer. Can you get protection from the local police? Not likely, since drug cartels also control local government and the police in many of those communities.

          That's what has been one basis for unaccompanied minors seeking to stay in the U.S. as refugees. They belong to a group of people--young people--who have been persecuted and may still be persecuted if returned to their homelands, and whose governments either cannot or will not protect them.

          •  I don't doubt that conditions in their country are (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hmi

            terrible.  What they need is "self government" through a functioning, elected govt that meets the needs of the people.  Given the situation which you describe (and I allude to it in my comments up thread) the only answer is a restoration of law and order by military force if necessary.  The answer is not to separate the country's children from their parents by granting unaccompanied minors asylum.  Having said that, the U.S. needs to come up with a sensible immigration plan that meets the country's needs.  This humanitarian disaster is not helping us get to the program which everyone knows we need.

            "Because I am a river to my people."

            by lordcopper on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 02:41:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  We already have our own tired, hungry, homeless, (0+ / 0-)

        masses seeking to be free. They are legion and they and were born on these teeming shores.

        Yet,they have had their water turned off; they have  had their food stamps cut; they can find no food in the empty pantries; they get up every day and go to work for shameful wages; they see their sons and daughters killed in the streets theaters, dorm rooms, classrooms; they see their sons daughters and grandmothers gunned down or brutalized by the people who are paid to protect them.

        This is a humanitarian crisis but, not one that is being  transferred to our shores but, a humanitarian crisis that was created and perpetuated by the rich, the powerful and the racist and misogynous laws, and senseless gun laws and practices that are woven into the fiber that is American cultural.

        No, don't send us any more crisis,we have more of our own that are enough to keep us busy for decades.

        We don't need anyone screaming and demanding that they go to the front of the line in front of the people who have been waiting in line and who have the right to be in line.      

    •  The court? (0+ / 0-)

      That's what's happening now. The children coming over are detained and await for a court-date to hear their case. Refugees will be allowed in. Non-refugees will be deported.

  •  I agree (10+ / 0-)

    It is a humanitarian issue.  Imagine having to pack up and ship your kids off to another country to avoid a violent death at home.

    Heart breaking thought, yet this has been and continues to happen.  However, if there are no policies in place to help these kids succeed........  For that matter, we need policies in place to help all mid to low income kids succeed instead of churning out college debt slaves, but I digress.

    Great diary.

    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

    by War on Error on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:12:37 AM PDT

  •  If tens of thousands of Gaza residents were (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lordcopper, Utahrd, greenbell, kansaster, hmi

    fleeing here, I'd support letting them stay. But the US simply can't admit everyone who comes from a poor, disorganized country. That would mean admitting most of the world.
       The minors showing up at the border do not meet the definition of refugee under US laws.
        Most of them are not eligible to stay.

    •  It's not up to you to declare that the children (15+ / 0-)

      aren't refugees under U.S. law.  I've been a U.S. immigration lawyer for more than 25 years, and I disagree with you.

      •  One doesn't need to be an immigration lawyer (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lordcopper, hmi

        to have an opinion. And I'm sure that there are other immigration lawyers who disagree with you, which is why there are to be hearings.
          Currently, the administration seems to be planning on deporting most of these minors and the American public seems to be supporting sending them home.

        •  Arguably you did more than express an (6+ / 0-)

          opinion.  You positively stated a conclusion as if it had been proved.

          You're right that there is no end of Obama's pandering to the right, which never gets him anything, so he will probably deport most of these children.  But that's wrong.

            •  Ted Rall? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Susan from 29, Timaeus

              -You want to change the system, run for office.

              by Deep Texan on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 12:23:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  "Support" (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Timaeus

              ... by your own chain of links, the US didn't even know what happened was a coup until a month after the fact and the only way the US 'supported' it was not cutting of support other than democracy aid.  Are you saying that, had we cut off support for Honduras after the coup, there would be fewer refugees now?

              •  hahaha... "the US didn't know...." (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                limpidglass

                We were behind it. Just like we were in other countries in the region. Just like we were in Venezuela.

                For the last 100+ years we've been behind coups, assassinations, and right wing/military/brutal dictators over and over and over. We've purposely exported torture and death squads to the Americas. We're supporting death squads today in Honduras. US Marines are in Honduras today. The DEA has been killing people in Honduras today. Innocent people too, shot from US helicopters under Obama.

                The whole rest of the world knows what the USA has been up to. Only Americans live in their sheltered world where their country is kind and benevolent to all.  

                "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                by YucatanMan on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 11:31:25 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  There is zero evidence... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  hmi

                  ... that the US was "behind" the 2009 Honduras coup.  It was done by Honduran troops.  I am tempted to HR for conspiracy theory trolling, but I'll resist.

                  •  And, interestingly enough, Obama broke with the (0+ / 0-)

                    rest of the OAS countries who were calling for the return of Honduras' democratically-elected president and recognized the military coup government. And since then, the Obama administration has loaded Honduras with billions of dollars of military equipment, weapons and ammunition.

                    This are hard facts. No theory.

                    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                    by YucatanMan on Sat Jul 19, 2014 at 07:55:18 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  You simply are not well-read on the topic: (0+ / 0-)

                    The NY Times:
                    (Note very careful word-parsing here):  

                    The White House and the State Department had Mr. Llorens “talk with the parties involved, to tell them, ‘You have to talk your way through this,’ ” a senior administration official said Monday. “ ‘You can’t do anything outside the bounds of your constitution.’ ”

                    Still, administration officials said that they did not expect that the military would go so far as to carry out a coup. “There was talk of how they might remove the president from office, how he could be arrested, on whose authority they could do that,” the administration official said. But the official said that the speculation had focused on legal maneuvers to remove the president, not a coup.


                    Yeah, we sat up all night talking to the coup leaders about how they could "legally" remove the president, but we weren't involved in the coup.
                      That's just laughable.

                    Why was the USA consulting with the political opponents of an elected leader in any country, trying to devise "legal" ways to remove him from power?

                    The Guardian:

                    Latin America: how the US has allied with the forces of reaction
                    Honduras three years ago created a new template of the US backing coups to compensate for lost influence on the continent
                    ...

                    The Obama administration, according to its own conversations with the press, knew about the coup in advance. But the first statement from the White House – unlike those from the rest of the world – did not condemn the coup.
                    ...

                    That sent a message to the Honduran dictatorship, and to the diplomatic community: the US government supported this coup and would do what it could to make sure it succeeded.
                    ...

                    For that reason, South America refused to recognize the Honduran "elections" held six months later under the dictatorship. But Washington wanted the coup regime legitimized. The Obama administration blocked the Organization of American States (OAS) from taking action to restore democracy before "elections" were held.

                    The New Yorker:
                    Now it seems we will recognize the next Honduran government. Most other countries are holding firm to the principle that coups are simply not acceptable, and that they cannot be whitewashed by a subsequent election—an election held under conditions that are not free and fair. But, with respect to the U.S., it looks like the coup plotters may get away with it.
                    Christian Science Monitor:
                    "Remember that the general in charge of this is a graduate of the School of the Americas," the US military training center for the region's militaries, says Miguel Tinker Salas, a Latin America specialist at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. "You have to assume they were communicating with someone in the US."
                    The LA Times:

                    The high-powered hidden support for Honduras' coup

                    The country's rightful president was ousted by a military leadership that takes many of its cues from Washington insiders.
                    ...

                    If we add together the high-powered lobbyists from the Clinton camp, Republican members of Congress and conservatives within the State Department, the coup government has a lot of support from Washington.

                    Issues at hand:  Elected president supported the poor, including increased minimum wage.  Military coup leaders supported the privilege of the elite, as always:
                    President’s Ouster Highlights a Divide in Honduras
                    ...
                    To Ms. Castro, who lives a solidly working-class existence, Mr. Zelaya was ousted because people like Ms. López Contreras felt threatened by his efforts to lift up the poor — most notably with a 60 percent increase in the minimum wage to about $9.60 a day from about $6 a day. An estimated 60 percent of Hondurans live in poverty.

                    Last week, Mr. Zelaya’s supporters, led by an estimated 50,000 teachers, tried to put more pressure on the de facto government by keeping schools closed, staging days of demonstrations and blocking traffic along highways around the country’s two major cities.

                    The people the coup put back into power:
                     
                    THE coup here has brought back a lot of Central America’s cold war ghosts, but few as polarizing as Billy Joya, a former police captain accused of being the former leader of a death squad.

                    He didn’t sneak quietly back into national politics. He made his reappearance on a popular evening talk show just hours after troops had rousted President Manuel Zelaya out of bed and loaded him onto a plane leaving the country.

                    Mr. Joya’s purpose, he said, was to defend the ouster and help calm a public that freed itself from military rule less than three decades ago. Instead, he set off alarms among human rights activists around the world who worried that the worst elements of the Honduran military were taking control.

                    Further analysis:
                    Hugo Llorens, the Bush-appointed US ambassador to Honduras, and Thomas Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State, deserve far more scrutiny for their roles in the run-up to the coup. Both men cut their teeth in Central American diplomatic missions during the dark days of the 80s, when American policy fueled near-genocidal civil wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Llorens was the State Department’s “narcotics coordinator” in San Salvador from 1989-1992, while the civil war still raged. Shannon was at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala from 1984-86.

                    As Director of Andean Affairs at the National Security Council from 2002 to 2003, Llorens was a top adviser to the President on Venezuela when Chavez was temporarily deposed in a US-supported coup. Shannon held the same desk before him.

                    Two days after the coup in Honduras, the New York Times reported that Llorens and Shannon had spoken with military leaders prior to the overthrow of Zelaya.

                    Their opposition to a coup appeared to turn on semantics...
                    ...

                    The close ties between the US and Honduran military establishments are also cause for concern. It has been noted that several of the coup plotters, including Velasquez, were trained at the School of the Americas, a notorious US-run training ground for Latin American military leaders.

                    Less well-reported is the fact that James Stavridis, (then head of the US Southern Command, now NATO commander), made a special trip to Honduras in January 2009, where he met with military and political leaders and praised the US-Honduran relationship, according to the Defense Department press release: “Declaring an “excellent state of cooperation between our two militaries,” Stavridis lauded tremendous progress within Honduras’ 11,000-member military.” The Southern Command maintains its only permanently deployed base in Honduras.
                    ...
                    Given the apparent strength of the US-Honduran military relationship, it would be surprising if the Honduran military had gone against the wishes of the US military, ignored objections from Llorens, and risked the possibility of losing US military support by going through with the coup. It’s borderline inconceivable.

                    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                    by YucatanMan on Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 06:13:15 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Republicans Need to Revisit Honduras and Guatemala (7+ / 0-)
    Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) said that "most immigrants from Central America who are crossing illegally into the United States are driven by economic reasons, not fear of physical danger in their homeland," the Sante Fe New Mexican reports.

    However, Pearce said "he and the rest of the House delegation that visited Honduras and Guatemala did not venture from their hotel very often because of the dangers..."

    Maybe they all should visit and spread out to visit each village.

    I would also suggest that they bring their daughters with them but that would smack too much like their ideas about women being male property.

    The highest form of spiritual practice is self observation with compassion.

    by NCJim on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:22:11 AM PDT

  •  Excellent diary. (11+ / 0-)

    It's a shame it probably won't get the attention it deserves.

    Incidentally, it's weird the way the media has spun this up into a supposedly huge crisis, and everybody in government has sheepishly agreed with that spin.

    In fact, the number of undocumented people crossing the southern border is much less now than it has been at many times in the last 20 years.

    •  Thank you for the praise (7+ / 0-)

      I would welcome more of your thoughts on the issue, as an expert in the field.

      "In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

      by pierre9045 on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:45:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not really an expert on refugee law, but I (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pierre9045, Deep Texan, benamery21

        can tell a refugee when I see one.

        Of course, I'm a radical on immigration policy.  I think the United States should have a completely open border.  The entire immigration apparatus should be dismantled.  Criminal and security problems could be handled by state law enforcement.

        I believe that position is mandated by holy scripture.

        •  I don't think we want anyone's "Holy Scripture" (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pvasileff, Susan from 29, DrFaustus

          used as the basis of law.

          "Because I am a river to my people."

          by lordcopper on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 10:02:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Obviously the United States keeps getting (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Deep Texan, benamery21, True North

            more, not less, restrictive in immigration policies.  So you really don't need to worry about an open borders policy ever going anywhere.

            The U.S. Declaration of Independence is codified as 1 Stat. 1.  It is a kind of foundational law.  It holds that all people are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights.  That belief is always going to be part of the basis of all U.S. laws.

            •  People interpret scripture to support or speak (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pvasileff, Susan from 29

              against lots of things.  For example, many opposed same sex and interracial marriages because of obscure lines from the Bible.  We've come a long way towards changing attitudes, we don't need to go backwards.

              "Because I am a river to my people."

              by lordcopper on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 10:37:44 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The Founding Fathers called their god "Creator" (0+ / 0-)

              and never used the words Jesus or Lord because theirs was a different god than that portrayed by "Holy Scripture".

              A million Arcosantis.

              by Villabolo on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 06:14:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Codification (0+ / 0-)

              The Declaration states that human beings have inborn rights, not that they automatically have the exercise of those rights. For that to happen, governments (plural) are formed by peoples and established to secure the rights. But nothing in the Declaration says or implies that any one particular government is responsible for giving effect to all inalienable rights for all peoples—only for its own citizens. And nothing in the Declaration says or implies that any particular government is obligated to mankind generally to offer universal citizenship.

            •  Source (0+ / 0-)

              Please provide a source for your claim that the Declaration was somehow codified into the U.S. statutes. So far, I'm unable to track this claim to any text.

          •  Personal inspiration, vs. convincing others (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lordcopper, pierre9045

            I have no problem with anyone who is inspired by their own holy scriptures in their approach to complex issues in world. Indeed, I've known fine people from many faiths, who all seem to take the best of what their tradition teaches.

            The arguments we make to the wider world about what the law should be have to be based on something other than the teachings of any religion, because we don't all follow the same teachings. There have to be good sound reasons outside religion. Often, there are indeed such good reasons.

  •  Can we improve their homeland? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lordcopper

    We should move all the good people out of the area, then bomb the gangsters. Educate the good people on how to thrive in their area and then let them go home in peace. If we can't do that we really have to consider taking these refugees to give them a life.

    •  We tried that (0+ / 0-)

      We could send in the Marines.  Oops, been there, done that.

      But we funded the Contras in Nicaragua and Nicaraguans aren't moving here.

      We ruled the most productive part of Panama as a colony for several decades and Panamanians aren't moving here.

      "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

      by Utahrd on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:44:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Spending $3 Billion to reinforce law and order (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pvasileff, eagleray

        in these countries would be a better investment.  The children would be raised by their families for one thing, and it would have a positive effect on more children.

        "Because I am a river to my people."

        by lordcopper on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 10:05:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with that. That's the root cause of (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Deep Texan, pvasileff, eagleray

          the influx, such as it is.

        •  we've already done that. in one recent year, (0+ / 0-)

          half of all military exports from the USA into the western hemisphere was shipped into one country: Honduras.

          $1.3 BILLION dollars worth of guns and ammunition sent  into Honduras by the US govt. (2011, I believe)

          The USA militarized and escalated the violence that was pushed south. Our policies are focused on failed solutions. We caused the problems in these countries in the first place and continue to do so.

          "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

          by YucatanMan on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 11:37:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  One important thing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pvasileff, eagleray, nils o

      is to look at how the financial aid that US sends to these countries aids in the current conditions, and ensuring those funds instead go to sustainable, community supporting and revitalization programs.

      "In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

      by pierre9045 on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 09:47:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe the first place to start would be to (0+ / 0-)

        cut off all access to money-laundering banks for the oligarchs and drug lords in those countries. To do this, you'd have to do it across the board to all US banks and work to get the Swiss etc to cooperate. This can be done without sending in the Marines, which never ends well, and needs to be done anyhow.

        But will Obama do that? Will Eric Holder? How do we put on enough pressure to make this a prime issue?

    •  Americans trying to help in Central America has (0+ / 0-)

      had unfortunate effects. Remember Reagan's killing sprees in Guatamala and El Salvador?
         Let those folks deal with their own problems. Americans aren't any smarter than Central Americans.
        As for taking in "refugees..."  How many? Who pays?

  •  User icemilkcoffee had a good diary a few (4+ / 0-)

    days ago providing much evidence for the notion that this so-called "crisis" is being wildly exaggerated:  http://www.dailykos.com/... .

    If you're interested in this issue, it would be good to read that diary.

  •  Re: The border crisis is not an immigration issue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noisy Democrat

    I disagree.

    "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

    by blackhand on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 11:27:53 AM PDT

  •  "American" way (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SMWalt, NoBlueSkies, YucatanMan

    This crisis has sadly solidified in my mind that what I used to consider the American way of dealing with such a crisis is all in my mind and that our country is currently made up of a very large number of complete assholes.

  •  Maybe we need to send a lawyer to teach these (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pvasileff, pierre9045

    Children how to incorporate.  Then I'm sure the GOP would greet gods children, inc. with open arms.

  •  Governor Patrick (5+ / 0-)

    Our governor Deval Patrick just spoke publicly on this issue.  Two military bases have been offered to the Federal government to house 1000 children.  Please give a listen.  I'm beyond proud to have this wonderful man as our governor.

    Governor Patrick of Massachusetts

  •  Personally IMO the president should elevate thi... (4+ / 0-)

    Personally IMO the president should elevate this to state of emergency and utilize FEMA. Treat this crisis just like a hurricane response...Set up FEMA trailers... Provide food, clothing, medical and shelter needs till Congress gets off its A$$ with long term $$$ response.

    For all objection hit back with...Are Syrian refugees turned away? Are Iraqi refugees turned away? IF THE COUNTRIES bordering these crisis can deal with refugees are we to weak to do same??? Is America that weak???

    I would like to see GOP deal with being called weaker than our allies because this is what we are portraying right now as we speak to the world at large.

  •  Somewhere in Leviticus (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045, YucatanMan

    The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native born.  Love them as yourself, as you were foreigners in Egypt.  I am the Lord your God.

    Leviticus 19:34

    And then there is Matthew 25:35-40

    "......whatever you did for one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did for me."

    So I see that there are a whole lot of GOD fearing right wing Christian folk who just have not got the message here!!!

  •  Thank you for this diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045, YucatanMan, Paul Ferguson

    I work as a public health nurse, and part of our mandate is the refugee screening clinic, and the TB clinic. I work with refugees all day long. These children are no less deserving of protection than the Burmese, Nepalis, Eritreans and Somalis. This is so political. We let in thousands of refugees into every city each year. Why have these kids been singled out as an "invasion", but the Iraqi and Rwandan kids are welcomed?

    We have nowhere else to go... this is all we have. (Margaret Mead)

    by bruised toes on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 05:57:44 PM PDT

  •  Which of these qualify for refugee status? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noisy Democrat

    Intentional Homicide Rate per 100,000 population:

    Honduras 90.4
    Venezuela 53.7
    Belize 44.7
    El Salvador 41.2
    Guatemala 39.9
    Jamaica 39.3
    Saint Kitts and Nevis 33.6
    Colombia 30.8
    Bahamas 29.8
    Trinidad and Tobago 28.3
    Puerto Rico 26.5
    Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 25.6
    Brazil 25.2
    Dominican Republic 22.1
    Mexico 21.5
    Equatorial Guinea 19.3
    Botswana 18.4

    UNODC 2013 Crime Report
    http://www.unodc.org/...

    Compared to:

    Detroit 54.6
    New Orleans 53.2
    Jackson MS 35.8
    St Louis 35.5
    Flint 31.5

    http://www.marketwatch.com/...

    There is violence all over the world, including here in the US.

    But does that mean we open our borders to everyone whose country has a problem? Are we still the land of opportunity that we were 50 years ago? Are the jobs to support these immigrants there or will they be created with the surge of immigrants?

    We have had the Immigration Act since 1924. While not perfect, it seems to have worked ok for the last 90 years.

    So I think it is an immigration crisis - we have not defined how many immigrants from where should be able to join our melting pot. Perhaps the solution requires a humanitarian viewpoint, but it is still an immigration crisis.

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Paul Ferguson

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature. I scroll with my middle finger.

    by ZenTrainer on Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 06:13:01 PM PDT

  •  No. It's a refugee crisis. And we created it. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045, YucatanMan

    First by providing muscle for United Fruit Company (just Google it), then by funding and collaborating in anti-communist dirty wars throughout the second half of the 20th century, and finally by being the world's biggest consumer of the narcotics that the gangs in these countries sell.

    These kids are refugees. Educate yourself.

    •  Oops. This was a reply to "tin41", not the diarist (0+ / 0-)

      n/t

      •  60% poverty in Honduras (0+ / 0-)

        and the US exports account for almost 50% of it's GDP (non-drug trade). Yes, things are getting worse there.

        My question is: what is the threshold for refugee status? Poverty? Homicide rate? Drug trade? Violence?

        That's why it is an immigration crisis - there is no real threshold defined. If there was, we would not be having any debate about what to do with these children.

        •  Per our government (0+ / 0-)
          "Refugees are generally people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm," the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says. (source: CNN)
          For example, Guatemalans of Mayan descent were subjected to systematical genocide in the years following the United States' sponsored removal of President Jacobo Árbenz in 1954. That being the case, Guatemalans of Mayan descent applying for refugee status in the U.S. should receive it (but often don't).

          Now I've answered your question. Quid pro quo, Clarice... what do you think is the "threshold" for refugee status? In your earlier entry you seem to indicate you believe it isn't dependent on the circumstances surrounding the refugee, but on the United States' ability to economically accommodate such a person. Is this really what you think?

          •  It is a little of both (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DrFaustus, hmi, Hockeyray

            3 million children ages 0-14 are in Honduras today. How many are refugees?

            Is it only the children or do their parents come too? 6 million refugees?

            Can they all come tomorrow?

            There are only 250,000 children who enter Foster Care in the entire US in a year. A total of 400,000 children are in Foster Care at any one time.

            Immigration en mass presents logistical and economic challenges that must be addressed. Where is the affordable housing? Who pays for the housing? Food, basic necessities? Where are the jobs to help sustain the families?

            Is the US an ever-expanding life boat with unlimited resources to handle all of the world's problems - some of which we actually created? Ideally perhaps it should be, but reality is a little different. We can't even maintain our infrastructure or our inner cities.

            What about the other countries that have a murder rate below that of Detroit? Do they qualify for refugee status?

            What about the citizens of Detroit? What humanitarian help should we be giving them? They have a 38% poverty rate. Is helping the children of Honduras a more noble cause than helping those in Detroit? Can we really do both?

            Where do we draw the line between who we help and who we don't?

            Humanitarian crisis - there is no line - we help everyone

            Immigration crisis - there is a line - we can't help everyone

            •  I'll ask again (0+ / 0-)

              What is your threshold for refugee status?

              •  Section 101(a)(42) of the INA (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                DrFaustus
                ...persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion
                Fleeing high crime and high poverty does not make a person a refugee.

                Iraqi Christians being told to convert or die - refugee.

                •  Exactly. And under these criteria (0+ / 0-)

                  ...many of those who've already come and continue coming from Latin America can make the case that they are refugees.

                  •  Which one of those criteria (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    hmi

                    apply to the children from Central America?

                    Race - not that I can tell
                    Religion - not a factor
                    Nationality - all Honduran
                    Social Group - nope
                    Political opinion - not sure what opinion the children have that would qualify

                    Living in a poor, violent place is not by itself a qualification of refugee status. Of the tens of thousands of children crossing the border, I would guess a very,very small percentage would qualify as refugee.

                    1970s - Cambodian refugees in Thailand classified by UN as 'economic migrants' not refugees. Out of hundreds of thousands of Cambodians seeing refugee status, only a small percentage were granted asylum in the US. Most were repatriated.

                    Vietnam was a different story, with hundreds of thousands of Southern Vietnamese being granted refugee status in the US to escape re-education camps because they were pro-US.

                    So your plan is to have tens of thousands of children sent on a dangerous journey to come to the border with the false hope of staying when only a one maybe two thousand meeting refugee critera; the rest being deported back to Honduras???

  •  Why isn't the MSM in Honduras and Guatemala? (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe it would help our fellow citizens understand what is going on at our border if they had a better idea of what these children were fleeing.   They are not coming here to take our jobs or get free stuff, they are coming because the alternative is a fairly high chance of dying in a hail of bullets or worse.  Many of our ancestors fled similar conditions and came to this country.  Their legacy demands that we do better for these modern day refugees.

    The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones! - John Maynard Keynes

    by Do Something on Sat Jul 19, 2014 at 12:46:54 PM PDT

  •  I appreciate this diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045

    and agree with your viewpoint but would make it stronger: Anyone fleeing from the drug wars in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador or Mexico should be considered a refugee and allowed to stay, period - or at least until the violence is under control in their home towns. That we have Republicans in the House who aren't willing to spend money to help poor people in the US, or that people who can't pay for water have had it cut off in Detroit are not reasons to deport people back to their deaths, and the arguments in favor of deporting them all - and the hatred that some people have shown toward these poor children - remind me of how Haitians fleeing from violent and corrupt dictatorships and Jews and others fleeing from Nazi-occupied Europe were treated in the past. The water needs to be turned on in Detroit, and we should probably be pressing the President to declare Detroit a disaster area and take over water distribution, if that's necessary and legal, but that has nothing to do with the need not to deport these kids to their deaths.

    And unlike you, I don't give a damn if that encourages more kids to come. Our responsibility is to give refuge to refugees, and any refugee who gets here has just as much right to stay as any other refugee.

    If we want to deal with the root causes of the problem, we need to legalize the drugs these gangs are dealing, and that unfortunately isn't happening any time soon, so it's hard to know what would really help, and I don't think US forces invading these countries by request of the governments, if they were foolish enough to make such a request, would cause anything but much greater injury.

    However, would you please edit your diary to correctly state that these children are coming from Central America, not South America?

    Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

    by MichaelNY on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 02:19:25 AM PDT

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