Frank Sharry: “For a nation that claims to be a world leader in refugee protection, in our own hemisphere we need to start acting like one ”
A Reuters article today reports that the Obama Administration is going to initiate of surge of raids targeting young mothers and unaccompanied children from Central America. If true, then the Administration is continuing down a path that is fundamentally flawed. The following is a statement by Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
“There is a refugee crisis in Central America and to deal with it effectively we need to treat it like a refugee crisis. Central American kids and young families are fleeing horrific violence. El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are among the most murderous countries in the world. Incredibly, however, the U.S. government is using deterrence, detention and deportation as its main tools.
The Administration’s enforcement-centered approach is doomed to fail because it misdiagnoses the reasons most people are fleeing. If the choice for a young mother or a teenage boy or girl is death at home or a dangerous journey to the U.S.-Mexico border, no amount of deterrence, detention and deportation will stop them from making the journey. However, an intelligent approach that ensures protection in the region, combined with orderly resettlement for those with close family members in the United States, would not only improve protection for those in need, it would provide workable alternatives in the region to those who now see coming to the U.S.-Mexico border to ask for asylum as the only way to seek protection.
Instead of responding as if this is primarily an immigration problem that starts at our border, the Administration needs a workable 4-step plan that is regional in nature: 1) expand efforts to deal with the root causes of the refugee crisis – which is the escalating violence in the sending countries; 2) work with our allies and the UNHCR to provide safe haven in Central America and Mexico so those fleeing can find safety in the region; 3) expand orderly resettlement programs – from within El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and from the neighboring countries of first asylum, so that those seeking to join family in America have workable alternatives to making the dangerous journey to the U.S.-Mexico border; 4) take special care to ensure each applicant for protection in the U.S. receives a full and fair process here in America.
For a nation that claims to be a world leader in refugee protection, in our own hemisphere we need to start acting like one. Those fleeing horrific violence in Central America need to be protected, not deported.”