If you think fertilized eggs are people but refugee kids aren’t, you’re going to have to stop pretending your concerns are religious– Syd’s SoapBox
News reports have been filled with conflicting theories explaining why tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, have been streaming into the U.S. Some observers say that their parents are sending them here, so that they can take advantage of the social services and free education available in the U.S. Others argue that they are not coming here willingly, but that they have been forced to flee gang violence in their home countries that ranges from murder to rape. Still others charge that President Obama’s lax immigration policy has drawn these migrants to the U.S.
Unfortunately many of the reports circulating in the media and the blogosphere are not backed up by evidence. Even worse, the American Immigration Council (AIC) says, “some are intentionally aimed at derailing the eventual overhaul of our broken immigration system.”
I have been fact-checking those reports for more than two weeks. Below, a summary of you need to know as we debate this tangled story.
The AIC recently released a report, based on documented interviews with more than 350 children from El Salvador which states that “crime, gang threats, or violence appear to be the strongest determinants for childrens’ decisions to emigrate.
Typically, the gangs try to recruit children. If they refuse, they and/or family members are shot.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offers charts showing how that in 2012, the murder rate in Honduras in was a whopping 30 percent higher than UN estimates of the civilian casualty rate at the height of the Iraq war. The charts also reveal that, statistically speaking, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are twice as dangerous for civilians as Iraq was.
Writing on Vox, Amanda Taub explains why minors are in special danger: “Children are uniquely vulnerable to gang violence. The street gangs known as “maras” — M-18 and Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13 — target kids for forced recruitment, usually in their early teenage years, but sometimes as young as kindergarten. They also forcibly recruit girls as “girlfriends,” a euphemistic term for a non-consensual relationship that involves rape by one or more gang members.”
This is what 15-year-old Maritza told the UNCHR when it interviewed hundreds of the fleeing children: “One member of the gang “liked” me. Another gang member told my uncle that he should get me out of there because the guy who liked me was going to do me harm. In El Salvador they take young girls, rape them and throw them in plastic bags.”
Maritza’s uncle knew that neither he nor the police could protect her. “My uncle told me it wasn’t safe for me to stay there. They told him that on April 3, and I left on April 7.”