I have noted before that Elizabeth Kennedy is in El Salvador on a Fulbright Fellowship researching the issue of unaccompanied minor children migrating to the US. Her research consistently has shown that these kids are fleeing violent situations made ever more dangerous by the drug trade, and our collective response to the children must take that into account. These conclusions were reinforced this past weekend by an article in the NYTimes by Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique's Journey. Rubén Rumbaut just forwarded an email with a plea from her to share her concerns with as many others as possible, and I am doing so here:
I recently traveled to Honduras to spend a week with Enrique's family in order to see the violence that plagues their neighborhood.When your Congressman tells you (as mine does) that we just need to tighten border security, remind them that the tightened border security is part of the problem. As Doug Massey at Princeton pointed out many years ago, the increasing cost of crossing the border means that undocumented immigrants stay once they get to the US, since it is no longer easy to go back and forth as they used to do. In the process, we have created a huge undocumented immigration population that didn't use to exist.
I saw firsthand the unimaginable pressures children face day to day to work for the narco/drug traffickers and gangs who now run much of Honduras.
I wrote the cover opinion piece for Sunday's New York Times. In it I describe why proposals by President Obama and many in Congress to shortchange due process and expedite removal of these children will send many of them back to certain deaths. I also offer novel solutions. I hope you'll join me in pushing for the right answers to this crisis. The government will begin deporting mothers and children in large numbers today.
I was also on Anderson Cooper 360 Friday talking about the issue.
I am testifying before the Senate on Thursday in order to urge Congress to take a humane and practical approach to this crisis.
Please help by reading and sharing my story so more people are aware of what’s driving these children to leave their homelands and what awaits many of them if they are returned without due process in the U.S.
Please contact your congressional representatives and share with them your concerns for the safety of these children.