Thursday, July 10, 2014

A roundup of reactions to the refugee crisis, and the president's Texas trip

-- Wendy Davis: Obama should visit border 'at some point'

“I hope that at some point in time he will make time” to visit the border, Davis said. “It’s one thing to see the numbers, it’s another thing to see it.”

-- Why 90,000 children flooding our border is not an immigration story

Just a few weeks ago, the United States was projecting 60,000 unaccompanied minors would attempt to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border by the end of the year. That projection is now 90,000, and it may be surpassed.

Virtual cities of children are picking up and fleeing El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala—some of the most dangerous places in this hemisphere. In Washington, the story has stoked the longstanding debate over border policy. But U.S. immigration policy is just a small part of this story. Yes, the U.S. immigration system is now bottlenecked with the influx, prompting emergency response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But changing U.S. border policy won't stem the root of the exodus.

"The normal migration patterns in this region have changed," Leslie Velez, senior protection officer at the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, explains. These people aren't coming here for economic opportunity. They are fleeing for their lives.

-- They are all "our" children

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has no interest in playing our political games with this issue. They produced a report titled Children on the Run which summarizes over 400 interviews they conducted with unaccompanied or separated children who arrived in this country illegally.
Our data reveals that no less than 58% of the 404 children interviewed were forcibly displaced because they suffered or faced harms that indicated a potential or actual need for international protection.
In terms of what harms they faced, the report says this:
Forty-eight percent of the displaced children interviewed for this study shared experiences of how they had been personally affected by the augmented violence in the region by organized armed criminal actors, including drug cartels and gangs or by State actors. Twenty-one percent of the children confided that they had survived abuse and violence in their homes by their caretakers.

-- Right-wing US chickens home to roost with border influx of young Ill Eagles

And the Reaganite anti-Communism of the 1980s, combined with conservative Catholics in both the U.S. and Latin America taking their cues from the papal ascent of John Paul II and kicking liberation theology, and a more liberal attitude toward birth control, to the curb had other consequences.

Result? On birth control? Guatemala having the highest birth rate in the Western Hemisphere. Honduras is second highest. They're both below a number of African and south Asian countries, but their rate is high enough to add to all the instability, with exploding populations.

On the rest of liberation theology? More liberal priests and bishops, and nuns, who challenged right-wing governments to do more for the poor, especially if they led protests and movements themselves, got reassigned. Ask Francis the Talking Pope about that, and his own involvement with the reassignments.

Of course, that ignores the more liberal church workers who, at least in places like Francis' Argentina, met the jails and torture cells of the right-wing dictators. Or sometimes, met their guns.

Take that, to a Texas lite guv candidate, The Stinking Anglo Formerly Known as Danny Goeb™.

So, yes, failure to actually go to the border may be Obama's Katrina moment, or at least something in the neighborhood. But, he's cleaning up a mess that's more Republican than Democratic.  (That's setting aside that neoliberal Democrats often went along for the GOP ride, especially on free trade.)

And, making it easier to throw the kids back across the border may be a short-term answer for the U.S. but it's not a long-term answer for us, nor any sort of answer at all for Central America.

-- Texans in Congress, blamed by Obama, seek audience over border crisis

“I told Rick Perry today, I said, I’m happy to listen to your ideas. But right now, the main problem I’ve got with respect to these unaccompanied children is I’ve just put forward a piece of legislation before Congress that would give us the resources to care for them and help deal with the border — all the things you say you want, Governor.

“And somehow I haven’t heard yet from the Republican delegation of Texas to say this is such an urgent problem that they’re going to move this quickly and get it done,” Obama said.

Williams, along with other Texas Republicans in Congress, rejected the administration’s $3.7 billion request earlier this week. The funds would allow for more border security and surveillance and provide aid to Central American countries the migrants are fleeing. It includes $1.8 billion for temporary care for young migrants – about 52,000 have been caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in the last nine months. And it would add immigration judges and other assets to process asylum claims and speed deportations.

-- Disease threat from immigrant children wildly overstated

The vast majority of Central Americans are vaccinated against all these diseases. Governments concerned about health, and good parents investing in their kids, have made Central American kids better-vaccinated than Texan kids. 

-- Bundy-style militia leader in Texas: ‘Get Back … Or You Will Be Shot’

An activist who is rallying a Bundy Ranch-style militia to the Texas border to address the ongoing crisis there reportedly released a YouTube video in which he said those crossing illegally would be warned: "Get back across the border or you will be shot."

Operation Secure Our Border, with its own Facebook page, is being organized by members of the "Patriot" movement along with Oathkeepers and Three-Percenters, according to the San Antonio Express News. Those are some of the same militia groups that came to Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's defense earlier this year.

The Express News and The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, both reported on a YouTube video featuring Chris Davis, who has been identified as the commander of the militia, in which he apparently explained how the border would be secured.

-- Obama makes lunch stop at Franklin Barbecue before departing Austin

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