New Orleans President Obama has asked for $4 billion to secure the border, speed up deportation hearings, and house some of the more than 50,000 children that have crossed the border from Mexico to the United States having survived a journey on “The Beast,” as the train from Central America is called. The Republicans are hooting and hollering. Texas Governor Rick Perry says he has now activated 1000 National Guard members to do god only knows what at the border. Most of the children are coming from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras with Honduras far in the lead with half of the top 50 cities sending children coming from that country and San Pedro Sula, the 2nd largest city in the country, accounting for 2200 children identified, leading the list. President Obama has summoned the three country’s presidents to Washington to discuss the crisis.
All of this is sound and fury unless you are an ACORN organizer working in the barrios and colonias of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula like Erlyn Perez and Suyapa Amador and dealing with the families on a daily basis. To ACORN International this is not just policy. It’s personal.
One of ACORN’s members, Luisa Almazan of San Pedro Sula, told us of her 14-year old son, Ermelindo, having been forced to flee to the United States despite the risks when gang recruiters gave him a choice of joining the gang or being killed. ACORN members and mothers, Candida Hernandez of Villa Nueva Cortes in San Pedro Sula, and Maria Antonia Callejas of Barrio Cabanas, told of the dangers to their sons, 18 and 16 respectively, and the fact that to save their lives they had been forced to pay $3000 to $5000 USD – money they didn’t have — to help them flee to the United States from the violence and poverty. Their children made it to the United States safely, but now they are detained by the immigration authorities in Texas. With no resources and already deeply in debt they are being asked to raise more money to transmit documents and get representation in order to secure their children’s release and return. These stories are repeated in every barrio where ACORN organizes, over and over.
In demonstrations in front of the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa and the First Lady’s office in San Pedro Sula this week, ACORN members are asking, “What next?” They are demanding the Honduran President take steps to finally provide security in lower income communities not simply to secure the boundaries from other areas, but to protect families from the gangs and narco-traffickers. They are demanding more support as well for jobs and educational opportunities. ACORN members and mothers don’t want to lose their teenage children to America. They are also demanding that the US spend some of its money to help the children relocate and resettle in Honduras and to actually assist them in getting their children home.
What ACORN understands is that this crisis is all about Honduras and its neighboring countries, and not about the United States. The US needs to get over its internal bickering and politicking and finally come to grips with the truth and the facts on the ground on the dirt streets where ACORN members are living and working in Honduras and stop militarizing the border and forcing the drug addictions of the US population to be paid in blood in our communities in central America. ACORN will demand change this week, but we fear, just as these mothers fear, as they summon the courage to speak out, that we will simply hear more of the same blaming the victims.