Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Legislative Initiatives to Support Refugee Children from Central American Countries

 "Tenemos un problema. Tenemos una crisis. Y si esta nación no despierta, la justicia nos juzgara junto con la historia. We have a problem. We have a crisis.  And if we do not respond, both justice and history will judge us." -Rev. Gabriel Salguero
A couple of days ago, we posted a video in which Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, offered his vision about ending hunger in 2030. At the Bread for the World National Gathering on June 9, 2014, Rev. Salguero gave a passionate reflection on immigration, placing a special emphasis on the situation of the children and youth who are coming across our southern border.

The flight of children and youth from the Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to the US is not difficult to understand: violence and poverty are largely behind the exodus.  "The problem is that when there's vast hunger in a region, the children are the canaries in the coal mine. The most who are disproportionately and immediately impacted are the children," Rev. Salguero said at that time. 

This report from the American Immigration Council tells us about complex circumstances behind the flight of tens of thousands of Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadoran children and youth north of the border.

Humanitarian groups argue that more than half of the children and youth seeking asylum in the U.S. meet the standards that would allow then to qualify for international protection. And yet, the Immigration and Customs agency (ICE) is deporting a large number of these young Central Americans.

"In order to uphold international law and human rights standards, the U.S. must employ careful and lawful screening processes for children seeking asylum. Unfortunately, this is not the reality. Many of these children face trial without representation and a clear understanding of the asylum process," said  the Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN).

 There is a legislative proposal in the Senate and House intended to address the issue.  The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2016 (S. 2540/ H.R. 4646) would ensure that the children, youth and other vulnerable individuals have access to counsel, legal orientation programs, and post-release services  while they are in immigration court proceedings.

"As people of faith, we are called to strive for justice and peace, and Episcopal policy passed by General Convention calls on Episcopalians to advocate for a just system of asylum for persecuted persons," said the EPPN. "The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act would ensure justice for children who have been forced from their homes and are seeking safety and opportunity."

The EPPN urges you to contact your members of Congress today to tell them to support S.2540 and H.R.4646.

1 comment:

Michelle Meaders said...

I see that some of the most vulnerable are going to peaceful and democratic Costa Rica for refugee processing, which seems like a good idea. Except they aren't taking very many, and they can't go on their own.

US partners with Costa Rica to protect Central American refugees

Obama administration announces plan for temporary protection as officials acknowledge insufficient effort to help people with ‘legitimate refugee claims’

Tuesday 26 July 2016 13.23 EDT Last modified on Tuesday 26 July 2016 17.24 EDT

Costa Rica will offer temporary protection to refugees fleeing Central America for the US, the Obama administration announced on Tuesday, following an admission by officials of its failure to address the surge in refugees fleeing violence, rape and kidnappings.