Friday, July 11, 2014

  • "We Should Be Protecting Children": Rep. Gutiérrez Supports Funds for Humanitarian Crisis at Border

    Children-backpacks

    President Obama has called for close to $3.7 billion to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding at the United States-Mexico border where more than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been detained since October. Part of the money will be used to speed up deportations as Republicans say they will only support the plan if it puts more emphasis on immediate repatriation. They want to change a 2008 immigration law — which originally passed with bipartisan support — that would let the United States deport children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador as fast as it does those from Mexico. "I think it is shameful that in the Congress of the U.S. we see members of Congress engendering and creating fear of children," says Democratic Rep. Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois, who supports Obama’s emergency supplemental bill. "We should be protecting children, not creating fear of them."

  • "Worst of the American Spirit": Advocates Decry Anti-Immigrant Protests, Urge Asylum for Children

    Murrieta1

    As thousands of migrants continue to arrive in the United States seeking escape from violence in Central America, this week the Texas town of League City passed a resolution banning undocumented children from entering its municipality. The move echoes sentiments that flared up just before July 4 in Murrieta, California, when police blocked three buses of migrants from reaching a federal immigration facility there. The buses carrying dozens of children flown in from an overcrowded detention center in Texas were then surrounded by demonstrators who chanted anti-immigrant slogans. "A society is judged on how we treat our children, and what we witnessed that day was the worst of the American spirit," says Enrique Morones, director of the group Border Angels. This comes as reports show Honduran children are increasingly being targeted by gang violence and Border Patrol statistics indicate a strong correlation between Central American cities with high homicide rates and waves of children who come to the United States. “What we need to do is give them, as we would refugees anywhere else in the world, access to territory and access to procedures in order to establish their status and care for them as people who need international protection," says Shelly Pitterman, head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office in Washington, D.C. He represents the office to the United States and Caribbean governments.

  • Gaza Debate: As Palestinian Deaths Top 100, Who’s to Blame for Escalating Violence? What Can Be Done?

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    The death toll in the Gaza Strip continues to rise in the fourth day of Israel’s aerial offensive. Medical officials in Gaza estimate that at least 22 people were killed Thursday, bringing the number of Palestinian fatalities to 101, about half of them reportedly women and children. No deaths have been reported on the Israeli side. The Israeli military says it has dropped hundreds of tonnes of bombs on 1,000 targets throughout Gaza, more than during its eight-day assault in late 2012. The intensification of Israeli airstrikes has been met with a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. We host a debate between Palestinian human rights attorney Noura Erakat and Joshua Hantman, senior adviser to Israel’s ambassador to the United States. "Israel is currently under attack," Hantman says. "Since 2005, over 8,000 rockets, missiles and mortars have been indiscriminately fired at our civilians." But Erakat says Israel’s bombardment of Gaza "amounts to a massacre." "Israel has precise weaponry and is targeting homes," she says. "This is a disproportionate attack, by what we consider the only democracy in the Middle East, by the U.S.’s most unique ally, to whom we provide $3.1 billion a year."