Honduran Violence and Child Trafficking Major Causes of US Border Surges

Tegucigalpa

Tegucigalpa

Kiln     The southern border surge at the US-Mexico line is something ACORN International knows about firsthand through our work with ACORN Honduras in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, often reported as leading the list of the most violent cities in today’s world.  President Obama asked for almost $4 billion in aid to secure the border, provide housing for children, and speed up hearings, even trying to shame Texas Governor Rick Perry into joining him in rounding up Republican support.  None of which is likely to happen since Speaker John Boehner and the Tea-people want to pretend that the pressure at the border is caused by poor enforcement and the rumors of amnesty for immigrants, neither of which has any factual basis.

One of the reasons for all of these political head fakes and dodges lies in bi-partisan legislation passed by the US Congress in recent years to stop sex trafficking and actually protect children.

“…the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, [was] named for a 19th-century British abolitionist.  Originally pushed by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers as well as by evangelical groups to combat sex trafficking, the bill gave substantial new protections to children entering the country alone who were not from Mexico or Canada by prohibiting them from being quickly sent back to their country of origin.  Instead, it required that they be given an opportunity to appear at an immigration hearing and consult with an advocate, and it recommended that they have access to counsel. It also required that they be turned over to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the agency was directed to place the minor “in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child” and to explore reuniting those children with family members.

So besides the fact that Obama’s real reputation in this area is as “deporter-in-chief” as reform advocates have called him, the truth is that he in fact is enforcing the law, even though the wild right may want to obscure this fact since their fingerprints are also on some positive legislation that they should be proud of.

But the other reason for the surge, as we know from our work in the colonias in and around San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, is that in the post-golopista period the Honduran various US-backed puppet governments have lost the political support of the people, while the government at every level has also lost the fight to provide minimal public safety.

Nowhere is the flow of departures more acute than in San Pedro Sula, a city in northwestern Honduras that has the world’s highest homicide rate, according to United Nations figures.

Between January and May of this year, more than 2,200 children from the city arrived in the United States, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics, far more than from any other city in Central America.  More than half of the top 50 Central American cities from which children are leaving for the United States are in Honduras. Virtually none of the children have come from Nicaragua, a bordering country that has staggering poverty, but not a pervasive gang culture or a record-breaking murder rate. “Everyone has left,” Alan Castellanos, 27, the uncle of two victims [in San Pedro Sula], said. “How is it that an entire country is being brought to its knees?”

The President is right.  This is a “humanitarian crisis,” but where he is only telling a part of the story is that the real crisis is Central America, and that the Mexican-United States border surge is the tail end of this tragedy.

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