[Posted on the Washington Office on Latin America's (WOLA) website, July 3, 2014]: "In the last eight months, more than 52,000 Central American children have been detained while crossing into the United States without their parents—mostly from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. There is a growing crisis as overwhelmed migrant shelters and detention centers attempt to meet the needs of these young people. The United States is not alone. Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize have documented a 712 percent increase in asylum applications as people flee the violence in their home countries.
"Since 2003, levels of violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have been on the rise. Honduras now has the highest murder rate in the world. Domestic violence and child abuse are widespread, and children as young as five are targets for gang recruitment. In the last eight months, one out of every 240 children and youth (under age 18) has fled from El Salvador."
Here are two actions to take to support undocumented children at the border:
1) From the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC, the Quakers):
Ask Congress to continue protections for immigrant children: The Obama administration has asked Congress to eliminate vital protections for immigrant children arriving in the United States without their parents—allowing children to be deported without a hearing, without access to an attorney, and without regard to their best interests as children. This response needs to be stopped. Contact your representatives today—ask them to protect, not punish, immigrant children.
2) From our friend and colleague Jennifer Harbury:
Protect arriving refugees at our southern border: Ask President Obama for immediate protections for the refugees arriving at the southern border of the U.S. 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. Sign the petition on Change.org here.