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Why Are We Deporting Thousands Of Children Alone?

by Angel Valdez

We wrote in the last issue about the Central American children who come to the United States alone and the mothers with children who are escaping imminent death in their countries but are the first to be deported when they arrive. Now the news is even worse. The Department of Security is sending deportation officers house to house to find and deport many thousands who came in 2014 and 2015, when there was an outpouring of support for the children, and have not yet been deported.  Especially targeted are those who turn 18. All of this is to teach refugee children a lesson: Do not come to the United States. Stay home to be killed.

Three and Four-Year Olds In Court Without Representation

It was widely reported in the press that in response to a suit by the ACLU on deporting children either without a hearing at all or having to represent themselves at an immigration hearing without a lawyer, Judge Jack H. Weil (who trains other judges in how to handle cases) made an outrageous statement. In his deposition he said that 3 and 4-year olds could be taught immigration law and could competently represent themselves in court.  The consequences for these children of losing in court are deadly. And of course, they lose.

Deportation To Almost Certain Death

 The children and families fled because of death threats or after family members were already killed. But our government does not recognize gang violence as a standard for refugee status.  We have to remind ourselves that the terrible violence from these gangs grew from the Central American wars when so many young people fled to the US to avoid forced conscription. (Many came to Casa Juan Diego). Those who went to Los Angeles found themselves targets of  exist-ing gangs and formed gangs of their own to protect themselves. They learned to be gang members in the United States. The responsibility for the formation of these gangs is grave for our country because of the extensive support our government gave to the re-pressive governments which caused their flight. At this time any young person who refuses to join a murderous gang in Central America or become the girl friend of a gang member is killed.  Many are caught in cross-fire.

Some of the presidential candidates who whip up anti-immigrant feelings among those suffering economically, scapegoating immigrants, ignore the fact that the Obama administration has deported more people than anyone ever did before.

Overwhelmed by Cuban Refugees

   The irony is that while thousands of children and families are being deported back to violence and death, our government is welcoming many thousands of Cubans. In a policy left over from Castro’s early days, when Cubans come they are given permission at the border to remain permanently in the U.S. Most are coming through South America all the way up through Mexico to our border, and large numbers are coming to Casa Juan Diego. Even though they can apply for refugee status, and agencies in Houston like Catholic Charities help them with the paper work, they are exhausted and alone when they arrive in Houston and we receive them. Our houses of hospitality are packed, with many on the floor at our men’s house. We cannot receive them all. They stay outside on our property until room becomes available. The best we can do is to give them a lunch and water and a blanket until space becomes available.

Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXXV, No. 2, March-May 2016.