Recently, Republicans have been using the story of children escaping violence as an excuse to attack immigrants and immigration reform — going so far to suggest that President Obama should dismantle the DACA program and resume the deportation of DREAMers. What many pundits have been completely ignoring, however, is the fact that the issue is about refugees, not immigrants. The children at the border are fleeing home countries with records of terrible crimes, and so need international protection.
A segment from All In with Chris Hayes yesterday explained this thoroughly, when Hayes brought on Leslie Velez of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees — which this week called upon the US to recognize the incoming children as refugees. Velez told stories about why the children had legitimate asylum claims, such as one girl who was threatened with nonconsensual sex by gang members. When she refused, the gang took her best friend and dismembered her, leaving her body parts along a road so that others would not see their words as empty threats.
“The definition of persecution is the threat of serious harm coupled with absence of state protection,” Velez said, and added that many of the border children definitely meet that definition.
Chris Hayes himself further reminded his audience that some 50 million people worldwide are refugees, and many countries far smaller than the US take in more refugees than we do. Turkey alone is housing 1 million refugees from Syria in camps or in its cities, compared to some 90,000 children expected to cross the US border this year.
“This is a real test for America in the 21st century,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), another guest during the segment. The country must soon decide “whether we can still consider somebody a refugee in our land.”
Watch the full Chris Hayes segment below: