Recently, several independent studies have found that the United States has been deporting Central Americans, including children, to their deaths in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
According to the Guardian, “Human rights experts warn that in its haste to expel or deter undocumented immigrants, the US government is scrimping on its obligation to provide asylum to those genuinely in peril in violation of international law.”
According to Article 14 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the US helped draft, “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”
Additionally, in 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that juveniles cannot be executed for their crimes, on the basis that doing so would classify as cruel and unusual punishment.
Yet we send immigrants, who are sometimes juveniles, to their deaths.
Fernando Protti, UNHCR regional representative for Central America, said “We believe that if their cases were further analyzed, many would be recognized as refugees with a well-founded fear of persecution and lack of protection in their country of origin.”
Most children who try to visit the US do so to escape gang violence and extortion in their home countries.
Reuters reported that “Gangs control entire neighborhoods of towns in Honduras through extortion, sexual violence against girls and women, threats, killings and forced recruitment of children. Children also face danger if they witness a gang crime, defy gang members’ orders and cross streets that mark gang territory.”
El Salvador and Guatemala face similar problems.
Protti confirmed, saying, “This violence is why families send their children to the United States on their own, UNHCR research shows.”
In 2014, the Obama administration began an immigration crackdown. This change, however, did not solve immigration problems; rather, it increased death rates of immigrants who attempted to arrive illegally. And as a consequence of this change, the US has been appallingly unfair to the immigrants. We didn’t always grant them interviews to determine if refugee status should be granted, and consequently sometimes send children to their deaths.
The disrespect that the US has shown towards basic human rights is disgusting, particularly in regards to children. As Protti said, the US is simply not paying enough attention to these cases. The humanitarian benefits of helping those in need outweighs the cost incurred by improving the accuracy of our immigration process.
Consequently, the US should put more effort into investigating the potential refugee statuses of immigrants, especially children, rather than deporting them.