CARECEN Commends D.C. Ward 1 Councilmember
Washington, DC, July 25, 2014 CARECEN commends Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham for declaring July 25 the day of Refugee Children of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala and introducing the resolution in the City Council. The resolution is the councilmember’s proclamation that Washington, D.C. is a welcoming city to all.
CARECEN, along with other institutions and individuals, petitioned the councilmember to make a statement in support of the children who are fleeing violence, poverty and need the city’s support. “It is our duty to protect children,” said Councilmember Graham, “the city should provide resources for the integration of these children, given that my Ward has a large Central American community, we can expect children to be settled here.”
CARECEN believes that the U.S. has a moral obligation as a society to protect children and it should be its first priority. The U.S. also has a legal obligation under national and international laws to protect children, keep families intact, protect victims of torture and forced recruitment into violent conflict. That is why CARECEN opposes any measure that weakens the protection of children or limits their right to due process.
Recently introduced legislation strips away critical legal protections for children from the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008. CARECEN also believes that the U.S. Border Patrol must ensure that unaccompanied children in detention centers should not face harsh, inhumane conditions that violate human rights and international accords while in the custody of U.S. institutions.
On the same day of the introduction of resolution the Presidents of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala are meeting with President Obama in the White House. “I hope this is the beginning of a dialogue that will lead to long-term solutions, but my fear is that they will choose short-term fixes that only increase the militarization at the borders and does nothing to address the root causes,” said Abel Nuñez, Executive Director.
He continued “This crisis didn’t happen overnight. The increasing violence and insecurity that these Central American children are fleeing has its roots in past and current U.S. policies, weak institutions in the countries of origin, and a structural pattern of increasing economic inequality, especially in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador”.
The exodus of youth from the region points to the failure of economic and development policies to produce genuine opportunities for people to live dignified lives in their home countries. Increasing border security or policies facilitating the deportation or repatriation of these children will not stem the flow and will force children to take more desperate and dangerous methods to escape the violence.
The U.S. must address the root causes that will require regional collaboration from government and civil society participants from the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. We need to re-think the economic, development, and drug prevention policies we are promoting in Central America, as well as the current approach to “security”, which prioritizes militarization and control over human well-being and respect for human rights. Any response that ignores this longer-term challenge will simply set the stage for the next crisis.