Prosecutor Nora Urbina of Honduras asked that her compatriots living in the United States who wish to reunite their families should not entrust their children to smugglers who promise to ferry minors along the treacherous route from the Central American nation through Mexico and finally to the U.S. border. Urbina said that it is a perilous journey where children are subjected to various kinds of abuse and even at risk of losing their lives. Speaking on June 13 in Tegucigalpa, Urbina said “They are taken in by criminal organizations: their organs might be extracted; they may be sold by human traffickers; they may be exploited, or even drown in the Rio Grande.”
“Don’t put your children into the hands of a coyote (ed.: smuggler). Don’t permit your child to leave the country without a visa or passport since it is not true that children who arrive in the United States are merely released and reunited with their families. That is not true,” said Urbina regarding the controversy unleashed along the U.S.-Mexico border where thousands of illegal immigrants, many of them minors, are either being held in various military and federal facilities or simply dropped off at bus stations by U.S. immigration authorities. The number of immigrants dropped off in cities such as Phoenix and Nogales AZ is overwhelming local charities and churches. Currently, approximately 35,000 illegal immigrants (many from Central America) are crossing the international border in the Rio Grande valley every month.
Members of the expatriate community of Hondurans living in the U.S. are seeking to provide aid to children being held at facilities such as Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio TX. Hondurans living in the U.S. are demanding that children and other illegal immigrants being held by immigration authorities should be given appropriate treatment. According to El Heraldo, a widely circulated newspaper in Honduras, it is predicted that at the current rate of entry that 90,000 unaccompanied minors may be detained at the border and then returned to their respective countries of origin. Concerned about reports of communicable diseases in the facilities for unaccompanied minors, Honduran Ambassador Jorge Mill visited Hondurans awaiting deportation and found that they are being kept in “warehouse-like conditions.” Honduran First Lady Ana García is scheduled to visit the children and other Hondurans in custody. Honduras plans to open a consular office in Phoenix.
Diplomats of the Central American republic are planning to open other consular offices at key points where Hondurans cross into the U.S. Honduras also seeks to better understand U.S. regulations concerning minors, whose cases can take at least 90 days to adjudicate. According to El Heraldo, Honduras is reinforcing its border controls and will punish child traffickers. The crime-ridden country, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world and where narcotraffickers hold sway over siginificant portions of the capital city, has also pledged to investigate cases of official corruption and collusion with human trafficking. Rev. Carlos Rubio, vicar of the Catholic diocese of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, said in a Sunday homily on June 15 that "We should be builders of peace, we have to struggle so that no one can steal the peace in our hearts or of harmony with our brothers and sisters." He expressed sorrow that his country is rocked daily by violence committed by organized narcotraffickers.
Unaccompanied minors are sometimes reunited with family members in the U.S., following a period of investigation and adjudication. The White House Domestic Policy Director, Cecilia Muñoz, said this week that “It is important to understand that these children are in a deportation process and that process will be carried out…And while some of them are being reunited with relatives in the United States, they are being processed for deportation and some of them will have to return.” Nonetheless, the White House has come under fire from critics shocked by the wave of immigrants seeking admission at the border.
In a show of how serious the situation along the border is, Vice President Joseph Biden is scheduled to travel to Central America and meet the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Minors (some of whom are adolescent members of the infamous multi-national criminal organizaiton known as Mara Salvatrucha) are being kept in detention facilities in the U.S.in “sub-human conditions’, reported Prensa Libre – a Guatemalan daily. The paper said that the number of unaccompanied minors showing up at the U.S. border has grown alarmingly and are being “warehoused and with deplorable services that are insufficient.”
According to the Border Patrol, 13,940 Guatemalan nationals were arrested along Arizona’s section of the U.S./Mexico border during the 2012-13 fiscal year. So far, during the 2013-14 fiscal year the number has risen to 6,029 – making Guatemalans the second-largest cohort of those arrested. Following his stopover in Guatemala City, Biden is expected to visit Guatemala City on June 20 during a Latin American junket. He is expected to visit Brazil to take in US team face-off Ghana at the World Cup football championship. The U.S. is not favored to win.
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