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Obama, states frustrated over child, border crisis

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Jul 16, 2014 - 7:08:44 PM

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Immigrant families and children's advocates rally in response to President Barack Obama's statement on the crisis of unaccompanied children and families illegally entering the United States, outside the Los Angeles Federal building July 7. A top Obama administration offi cial says no one, not even children trying to escape violent countries, can illegally enter the United States without eventually facing deportation proceedings. A/P World Wide Photos

WASHINGTON—It may be the most vexing challenge of President Obama’s six years in office because it cannot be remedied by “boots on the ground,” or even by diplomacy. It is the literal “invasion” of the United States along its southern border by tens of thousands of unarmed, unaccompanied children, thousands of miles from their homes in Central America.

State governors—both Democrats and Republicans—reacted cautiously July 13 to attempts by the Obama administration to win their support for a plan to place thousands of the estimated 57,000 who’ve arrived here since last October, with friends or family members already inside this country.


Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell met privately with dozens of governors at the National Governors Association summer meeting in Nashville.

President Obama traveled to Texas July 11, where he met with Republican Gov. Rick Perry, but he declined Mr. Perry’s demand that he travel to the border personally, or that he send 1,000 National Guard troops to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents with border security. Mr. Obama asked Texas Republicans in Congress to pressure the House leadership to approve his request for $3 billion to be used for humanitarian services, more detention centers and immigration judges to handle the influx of the burgeoning number of unaccompanied children.

This came after hundreds of immigrant advocates gathered at the White House July 8 to criticize the Obama administration’s treatment of the children who are fleeing violence among warring drug cartels battling for control of the lucrative U.S. drug trade. The seized children—about double the number captured at this time one year ago—came to this country from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

“We’re going to take action on this,” Cindy Monge, with CASA in Action told reporters outside the White House. “We want these kids to reunite with their parents, because that’s what they came here for. It’s not their fault. Some of them don’t even know what’s happening. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re just told, ‘Go with so and so and get here.’ Like, that’s what happened to me. They were just like, ‘You go with these people, and we’re going to see you back here.’ ”

The Obama administration has said most of the children are unlikely to qualify for humanitarian relief and would be deported. But the UN high commissioner for refugees said 58 percent of the unaccompanied children detained by the United States could be entitled to refugee protections under international law.

The rowdiest disruption was held July 2 in Murrieta, Calif. a small town about 70 miles north of San Diego, where hundreds of protesters shut off access to a nearby Border Patrol station in Riverside County, waving American flags, shouting “go home” and holding signs that read “stop illegal immigration” and “illegals out.”

Some 140 immigrant children and families had been flown there from overcrowded facilities in Texas and were set to be transported to other Border Patrol stations in California before their three buses were turned back by the angry mob.

“I think that the immigrant rights issue is the central one. Politically, I can’t evaluate how it’s going to play out. Certainly it doesn’t look good for the Democrats,” California State Senator Tom Hayden told Margaret Prescod on “Sojourner Truth Radio” heard on Pacifica radio station KPFK in Los Angeles. “What’s happening at the border puts the president in an impossible situation, because he’s being accused by the Republicans of implementing a law that was signed by (President) George Bush that gave certain due-process-rights to kids that came from these three countries in Central America.

“They’re saying, the George Bush law—which gave minimum rights to these kids—has to be repealed in exchange for the $3.7 billion that Obama wants to expedite their deportation. It’s totally absurd.”

“The first thing to remember is that we’re talking about children. We’re talking about children that are 12, 13, 14-years old,” Jackie Goldberg, another former California State legislator and founder of the Progressive Caucus there, told Ms. Prescod. “Many of whom are coming from those three parts of the world because it is unsafe to live where they are, for a variety of reasons: the economics, forced slave labor and prostitution, the politics, the militarization, the fighting, the killing, the deported drug and gang members that we sent to their countries, and on, and on, and on.”

The children involved must wait often four or five years before their immigration status can be resolved in the overcrowded courts, some even end up in foster homes, and most attend U.S. schools.

“You watch those people in Murrieta screaming: ‘Go home. This is our land.’ And you think they’re standing in Northern Mexico for God sakes. Don’t they know any history at all? The answer is, of course they don’t. I saw them screaming: ‘This is my land. This is my land. Go back to your land.’ I’m thinking: Your land? Your land for what, 100 years? Prior to that it was someone else’s land a lot longer.”

“Well certainly this immigration issue reflects deep, long-standing anxieties of the White-right to go back to 1790 when they changed immigration laws in the new republic to open the door for the entry of more Europeans to countervail the strength of the African and indigenous population,” Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston told Ms. Prescod. “That was a turning point in the history of the United States. And in the 1920s, of course, there were immigration laws which favored Europeans and discriminated against Asians, which outraged Tokyo and was a step toward World War II.

“Now today, the White right sees California as ‘Exhibit A’ as what happens when the Whites become a minority, that is to say, the state turns blue, and it becomes very difficult to impose right-wing policies,” Dr. Horne continued.

“Interestingly enough there’s not a peep about undocumented Irish in Massachusetts, or undocumented Poles in Chicago, undocumented Israelis in New York City. This is a question of racism, pure and simple,” Dr. Horne explained.