She ended up uncovering the terrible plight of the children of Honduras, who are victims of the drug crime ravaging their country. Ms. Nazario writes that “a vast majority of child migrants are fleeing not poverty, but violence.” She maintains that “what the United States is seeing on its borders now is not an immigration crisis. It is a refugee crisis.”
Ms. Nazario talks about the children she met in Honduras and their stories.
There was an 11-year-old boy named Christian desperate to get out of Honduras. His father was murdered by gang members and his mother fled to the U.S. but has not yet sent for him. He lives in fear. An 11-year-old girl who he knew had her throat cut by two men.
According to Ms. Nazario, the narcos have “started putting serious pressure on kids to work for them. At Cristian’s school, older students working with the cartels push drugs on the younger ones — some as young as 6… Later, they might work as traffickers or hit men. Teachers at Cristian’s school described a 12-year-old who demanded that the school release three students one day to help him distribute crack cocaine; he brandished a pistol and threatened to kill a teacher when she tried to question him.”
Ms. Nazario also tells of a high school where, “until he was killed a few weeks ago, a 23-year-old “student” controlled the school. Each day, he was checked by security at the door, then had someone sneak his gun to him over the school wall. Five students, mostly 12- and 13-year-olds, tearfully told (their teacher) that the man had ordered them to use and distribute drugs or he would kill their parents. Teachers must pay a “war tax” to teach in certain neighborhoods, and students must pay to attend.”
Ms. Nazario met a 14-year-old boy who lives in “a shack made of corrugated tin…and usually doesn’t have anything to eat one out of three days." Since he was 7 he worked in a dump picking out metal pieces to recycle but “bigger boys often beat him to steal his haul. Now he sells scrap wood. When he was 9, he barely escaped from two narcos who were trying to rape him, while terrified neighbors looked on. He has known eight people who were murdered and seen three killed right in front of him. He saw a man shot three years ago and still remembers the plums the man was holding rolling down the street, coated in blood. ”
Ms. Nazario talks of the plight of young girls in Honduras, which she says accounts for the reason that “around 40 percent of children who arrived in the United States this year were girls.”
Even the youngest girls are in danger of being kidnapped and raped. “Some parents no longer let their girls go to school for fear of their being kidnapped,” writes Ms. Nazario. Narcos help themselves to any girl they want. “I hope God protects me. I am afraid to step outside,” said a 19-year-old girl who has been told by narcos that “she would be theirs.” The same girl told Ms. Nazario that 6 youngsters were killed in her neighborhood last year.
The children in Honduras have no advocate there because, as Ms. Nazario writes, “narcos have bought off police officers, politicians, and judges.”
Ms. Nazario concludes that children trying to escape drug violence in Central America should be treated as refugees since “these children are facing threats similar to the forceful conscription of child soldiers by warlords in Sudan or during the civil war in Bosnia. Being forced to sell drugs by narcos is no different from being forced into military service.”
She suggests that refugee camps run by international relief groups should be set up along our borders. Immigrant Children who arrive at our borders from Central America should be held until it can be determined whether they’ve migrated for economic reasons – in which case they should be deported – or because their lives are in danger – in which case they should be granted asylum.
Ms. Nazario also states that “We should also make it easier for children to apply as refugees when they are still in Central America, as we have done for people in Iraq, Cuba, countries in the former Soviet Union, Vietnam and Haiti. Those who showed a well-founded fear of persecution wouldn’t have to make the perilous journey north alone.”
If you’d like to read the whole article, you can find it at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/opinion/sunday/a-refugee-crisis-not-an-immigration-crisis.html?ref=todayspaper
I have an idea for stopping the child immigrant/refugee problem from drug war-torn countries. It would work immediately. I’ll share it with you tomorrow.