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How to turn the tide of South American refugee children? Action desperately needed

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/29/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

One option could have children seeking refugee status in their native lands

The number of South American refugee children streaming into the U.S. from the border it shares with Mexico is erupting into a full blown crisis. Resources are strained in Arizona and elsewhere, as children and teenagers, chiefly from the nations of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala cross unaccompanied by adults or guardians. Many of these children fall victim to drug cartels, sex traffickers or hunger and thirst in their search for a better life. Pressure is mounting on U.S. President Obama to do something - now.

Many of the children flooding the U.S.-Mexican border are trying to reunite with relatives already in the United States, some of them here illegally.

Many of the children flooding the U.S.-Mexican border are trying to reunite with relatives already in the United States, some of them here illegally.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
6/29/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Refugee children, asylum, El Salvador, border


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Children arriving at the Texas border could reach 90,000 this year alone and grow to 150,000 next year. This is an unprecedented uptick, from only about 6,000 in 2011, according to government estimates.

This deluge of refuge children and teenagers are straining U.S. resources, from temporary shelters to immigration courts.

Get food into the hands of needy children -- by going here --

One possible solution has been offered by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona. He says that establishing refugee application programs in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, where domestic abuse, gang violence and poverty are rampant, is essential to defusing the growing U.S. border crisis.

Both Republicans and Democrats members of Congress say that a refugee program could help discourage minors from making the perilous journey north unattended. The program would also give some of them a legal way to flee the three countries, which rank among the top five countries with the highest murder rates in the world.

Many of the children flooding the U.S.-Mexican border are trying to reunite with relatives already in the United States, some of them here illegally.

If President Obama were to opt for a refugee program, he likely would use his own authority to create it, according to experts, rather than rely on legislation from Congress. Children could go to U.S. embassy offices in their home countries and apply for refugee status under this program.

In the meantime, White House officials have simply recounted measures recently announced to deal with the surge of illegally immigrating children.

These include $40 million to improve Guatemalan border security and $25 million to provide services to youth in El Salvador who are vulnerable to organized crime pressures.

Many immigration experts do not believe those steps, even when coupled with a public relations campaign urging kids to stay at home, will stop the flow. Long-term U.S. foreign economic aid and anti-drug programs in these countries might be needed, they have said.

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