Protecting Central American Women And Children
Since the beginning of the year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have been conducting raids to detain and deport Central American mothers and children who came to the United States fleeing violence. While the raids have targeted people who have received final deportation order from an immigration judge, they have also exposed serious concerns regarding due process and focused attention on the extreme violence and structural poverty in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. In response to the raids, the Center for American Progress released a video today on the importance of protecting these families.
Based on first-hand accounts from local news organizations, these raids are incredibly traumatizing for those deported and their families and communities. Qué Pasa, a newspaper based in Raleigh, described the detainment of Wildin David Guillén Acosta, a 19 year old Honduran student, who was arrested while preparing to go to his high school. According to his family, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, dressed in civilian clothes, tackled Wildin on the front steps of the family’s home, “handcuffed him, and took him away.”
Wildin’s mother, Dilsia Acosta, says she fears for Wildin’s life if he is deported because of the crime in Honduras. “In Honduras, what awaits young people is crime, gangs… which is why so many children come to this country fleeing not poverty but crime,” Acosta said. She added, “I’m devastated because they took our son. This is injustice because he has come to this country with good intentions, which he had clearly shown.” Wildin’s mother also asked President Obama to stop the raids. To see more of the family’s story, view this video.
The Obama administration recently announced that it will work with the United Nations to establish ways for people to seek protection before making the dangerous journey. This action represents a paradigm shift: that these children and families are refugees who need protection. But having such a system in place doesn’t free the United States from the moral and legal obligation to protect asylum seekers once they are here. Until the appropriate procedural safeguards can be put in place, the Obama administration should stop the raids and ensure due process for these refugees.
BOTTOM LINE: No person seeking asylum should be rushed to deportation. The Obama administration’s steps to work with the UN to protect Central American families are an important first step, but the United States still needs to protect asylum seekers once they are here. Until procedural safeguards can be put in place, the raids should stop and due process for refugees should be ensured.
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