- Felicia EscobarPolicy Director for Immigration, White House
Protect Arriving Refugees at Our Southern Border
Please join us in asking President Obama for immediate protections for the refugees arriving at the southern border of the US. Most are young mothers, children and teenagers, and many are fleeing the drug wars in Central America and Mexico.
As set forth in our petition, we are asking for temporary protected status for these refugees, and for all unaccompanied minors to be provided with lawyers. No child should be subjected to expedited removal to a dangerous homeland. To deport an unrepresented and at-risk child, without full proceedings, is unconscionable.
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- Policy Director for Immigration, White House
Dear President Obama,
We have all been deeply moved by the images of the young mothers, children and adolescents now detained under miserable conditions at our southern borders. They are clearly refugees, fleeing the drug wars in homelands which currently boast the highest murder rates in the world. A fifteen year old boy in Honduras who refuses to join the gangs would literally be safer in Syria. We must honorably meet our international obligations to grant these people a safe and humane haven. But for our Native American citizens, we are all immigrants or the descendant of immigrants. This is our national heritage.
We do not take lightly our government’s concerns for national security or the orderly control of immigration affairs. However, the solution does not lie in punishing the victims. Instead, we strongly urge the following three measures:
1. Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) or Deferred Enforcement Status (“DED”) should be granted for persons from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and certain regions of Mexico. This will give them temporary legal status here. After that, the dangers in their countries are reconsidered periodically. Once deemed safe, the refugees return to their homes. Meanwhile, the current burden on our courts and Border Patrol facilities is greatly alleviated, and the refugees can work and properly care for themselves.
2. Anyone under the age of eighteen who has survived the perilous trip north must have an attorney, and must never be subjected to expedited processing. These children know they can be killed for speaking out against the gangs, and they have no familiarity with our legal system. Not long ago a young mother removed in this way was found dead in a burning car within days. To permit the expedited deportation of unrepresented children is unconscionable.
3. Religious, human rights and civic groups must be allowed access to the U.S. Border Patrol detention facilities, and to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters for unaccompanied minors. Allow us to bring humanitarian supplies to the overwhelmed detention centers we see in the photographs. Likewise, as the ORR shelters for unaccompanied minors expand greatly, and utilize hastily trained and inexperienced staff, the likelihood of physical and sexual abuse is sharply increased. Such abuse has happened before under similar conditions. It must not happen again. We can help. Let us in.
We must remember too that in many ways, our own past government policies have helped create the untenable conditions now driving the refugees to our gates. We must welcome our brothers and sisters.
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