News outlets are reporting that hundreds of children are surrendering to Border Patrol agents at the Texas-Mexico border. Although the numbers have been high in recent years “authorities here are expecting 35,000 unaccompanied minors this year, triple the number two years ago” (Preston, 2014). Opinions vary as to why we are witnessing such a grand exodus from Central American countries, but the fact remains that those risking their lives to reach the United States are women and children.
In recent weeks the vast majority of undocumented immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol have been unaccompanied children, “a 9-year-old girl said she was traveling by herself, hoping to rejoin her mother and two brothers in Louisiana. But she did not know where in Louisiana they were. After a two-week journey from Honduras, her only connection to them was one telephone number on a scrap of paper” (Preston, 2014). One would wonder how a parent could give up their child to a virtual stranger and send them on such a perilous journey. The distance from Honduras to the Hidalgo, Texas is approximately 1100 miles. While many of us are leery of allowing our children to venture out alone in our own neighborhoods for fear of them encountering some evil, Central American families are taking on the risk to save their children’s lives.
Why risk their livesEdit
It is rumors of refuge that have prompted families to risk the lives of their children in order to save their lives. During a recent interview for Fox News Latino, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. stated “[t]his is a humanitarian and refugee crisis. It's being caused in large measure by thousands in Central America who believe it is better to run for their lives and risk dying, than stay and die for sure” (Fox News Latino, 2014). Although the article did share Senator Menendez’s views on the reasons for the increase in numbers of children seeking asylum, they questioned whether this was truly the reason children were fleeing their countries. The news source cites a “2014 Latin American Public Opinion Project conducted by Vanderbilt University found a steep decline in perceptions of crime among Central Americans and those hoping to migrate to the U.S” (Fox News Latino, 2014). Upon first reading the study one would believe the incidence of violent crime had dropped in most Central American countries but upon further reading an important clarification is made, “[t]hese contrasting trends of actual and perceived levels of insecurity suggest that Central Americans may have become increasingly desensitized to high levels of crime, or made behavioral adjustments in their daily lives to avoid victimization” (Fox News Latino, 2014). For many, adjustments in their daily lives have been to seek refuge in the United States.
Just as I have family who took on the long journey from Milan, Italy to the United State in search of a better life so do I have family that crossed the Rio Grande River in search of the same dream of a better life. The difference lies in what awaited Carcano's who entered the United States via Ellis Island and those crossing a river between Mexico and Texas. While Ellis Island arrivals were admitted into the United States after passing a health screening, possessing a sustainable occupation and having about $20.00 in their pockers, those crossing into the United States from Mexico would have to pay large sums of money to obtain citizenship. While Europeans were greeted by Lady Liberty proclaiming, “‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,’” Mexican's were greeted by men with guns and barbed wire fences. Where is the justice and equality in U.S. citizenship. Don't tell me that "your" family came to the United States legally. There is little equality in the means by which the eastern border travelers were greeted and embraced and the southern border travelers were shunned, imprisoned, and deported.
“Undocumented Immigrant Children Spurred By Reuniting With Families, Not Just Violence."
Fox News Latino. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 June 2014. <http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/
Preston, Julia. "Hoping for Asylum, Migrants Strain U.S. Border." The New York Times. The
New York Times, 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 15 June 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/