(Jul-1-2014) Message to the White House regarding the massive influx of refugees–minors and young families–arriving from Central America and Mexico:
Dear President Obama,
We have all been deeply moved by the images of the young mothers, children and adolescents now detained under miserable conditions at our southern borders. They are clearly refugees, fleeing the drug wars in homelands now boasting the highest murder rates in the world. We must honorably meet our international obligations to grant these people safe and humane shelter here. We Americans are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants. This is our national heritage.
We do not take lightly our government’s concerns for national security or the orderly control of immigration affairs. However, the solution does not lie in punishing the victims. Instead, we strongly urge immediate action on the following measures:
1. Temporary Protected Status, or “TPS” should be granted for persons from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and certain regions of Mexico. This will give them a year and a half of legal status. After that the dangers in their countries are reconsidered annually. Once deemed safe, the refugees return to their homes. Meanwhile, the current burden on our courts and Border Patrol facilities is greatly alleviated, and the refugees can work and properly care for themselves.
2. Religious, human rights and civic groups must be allowed access to the U.S. Border Patrol detention facilities, and to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement shelters for unaccompanied minors. Allow us to bring the obviously needed humanitarian supplies to the overwhelmed detention centers. Likewise, as the shelters for unaccompanied minors expand greatly, and utilize hastily trained and inexperienced staff, the likelihood of physical and sexual abuse is greatly heightened. Such abuse has happened before under similar conditions. It must not happen again. We can help. Let us in.
3. Anyone under the age of eighteen who has survived the perilous trip north must have an attorney to assist with deportation proceedings. To permit the deportation of such unrepresented children is unconscionable.
We must remember too that in many ways, our own past government policies have helped create the untenable conditions now driving the refugees to our gates. We must let them in.