Thursday, July 3, 2014

There is no 911 the Immigrant Kids Can Call. That is Why They Come to the US

Comment in Response to Ross Douthat's NYTimes Oped about thousands of unaccompanied kids from Central America, entering the US from Mexico:

To Ross Douthat:

You are cruelly clueless about what is driving kids and young people to rush north. Believe it or not, the USA is not seen as a paradise that millions of people want to sneak into. The young people of Central America are running for their lives.

Like the 14 year old interviewed on Aljazera, who said he was taken out of school by a gang member (they have the run of the school), who insisted that he join up. He told his grandmother about this and she said, 'if you join, another gang or the police will kill you. At least if you go the the US, no one will kill you.' 

Or the other young adolescent, who said, a gang grabbed her and told her to give them her mother's cell phone number in the states, so they could extort money, pretending she had been kidnapped, but if the child did not give up the number, she really would be kidnapped.

It is incredible to me that you are so absurdly misinformed about Central America and the dynamics of the northern migration. It is as if you have just dropped in from another planet, coming here on a mission of obfuscation and deceit.

Ross, don't you get this: there are no police to be called who will respond and no other authorities who can protect these kids from gangs that the USA actually created in El Salvador. 

Ross, have you never heard this? Have you never read a word about this? Or, more tragically for your readers, you know this but have decided not to let actual facts influence what you write?

Ross, have you never looked into how El Salvador is divided by a truce (not a clean victory) after a bloody civil war, and that the country is divided still?

Ross, have you not discovered that the US added to the civil war problem in El Salvador a generation ago by propping up one side so the truce, and no clear victory, could be engineered in the first place? 

Ross, have you never informed yourself about how the USA, more than a docade ago, began to deport gang members back "home" to El Salvador, a country these kids were born in but had no memory of or prospects for survival in, apart from the gang affiliations they brought with them?

Ross, is it possible, you know nothing about any of this? Is it possible, Ross, it is wilful ignorance, which enables you to say: the unaccompanied minor refugee phenomenon is only  a matter of better US security at the southern security? 

Ross, are you really that badly informed? 

Ross, are you unable to find out how favorably the current Administration stacks up to previous one on the question of robustness of its border security program? Isn't this fact relevant to your insistence that the current surge of unaccompanied kids into the US is merely a question of border security?

A Salvadoran friend of mine, age 19, was murdered in El Salvador in 2012. A bunch of kids with one or two adults in the mix grabbed him, held him down and dropped an enormous stone on his head, then stripped his headless body and left him where his mother would find him. The boy's uncle was a cop, who began to ask around. Well, the cop-uncle is now in the US, having fled to avoid threats directed against him and probably against his own children.

Don't you get it? There is no 911 you can call, Ross. There is nothing.

What the hell would you do, Ross, if you or your children were threatened with death if you did not pay the extortion demanded by a 15 year old, whom you did not even know, but who could tell you the route your daughter took to and from school? 

Ross, would you just stay put, and let yourself be killed? Let your kids be killed?

Ross, permit me to make a suggestion: 

please inform yourself before you settle comfortably into a further round of smug, fact-free pontificating about a region of the world you are deliberately clueless about - free also, I might add, from the slightest practical suggestion about what to do with the kids who make it into the US. 

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