Hillary Clinton says unaccompanied child migrants should be sent back, even if it isn’t safe for them in their home country.
We all remember the horrific scenes of unaccompanied children at our southern border last year, fleeing the violence in Central America. We all remember the backlash from some quarters and the pictures of angry protesters intimidating the children far from home and family, stuck in a hell of not knowing their fate. At that time, Hillary Clinton, along with people like Donald Trump, said to send them back to where they came from.
In a June, 2014 interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Clinton said,
They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are, because there are concerns about whether all of them should be sent back. But I think all of them who can be should be reunited with their families.”
At a town hall event televised on CNN on Tuesday in Las Vegas, Clinton stood by her statements. Granted, her stance isn’t as hateful and vitriolic as those made by Trump, but the bottom line remains the same. Send them back.
When pressed by Christiane Amanpour, Clinton had this to say:
They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are, because there are concerns about whether all of them can be sent back, but I think all of them that can be should be reunited with their families. … We have to send a clear message. Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean he gets to stay.”
In a statement that shocked viewers, Clinton allowed that “it may be safer” for children from places like El Salvador and Guatemala, known for the violent conditions in those countries, to stay in the United States – “but that’s not the answer.”
Because the emergency is over, we need to be moving to try to get people out of these detention centers, particularly the women and children. I think we need more resources to process them, to listen to their stories, to find out if they have family in this country, if they have a legitimate reason for staying. So I would be putting a lot of resources into doing that, but my position has been and remains the same.”
Wow. I know we have immigration laws in this country, and I do believe we need to stand by them. But we also have a long tradition of taking in people from places where their lives are in danger. That is the case with many child refugees who fled their homes in search of a safe haven. For one minute, did the former Secretary of State even consider the torturous decision process the parents of those children must have gone through to allow them to make that danger fraught journey? Did she even consider how difficult it must have been to send their children on an uncertain journey in the hope those children would find a safe haven and families willing to take them in, nurture them and provide a life they could never have in a country overrun with drug lords?
Jonathan Ryan is executive director of RAICES, a Texas nonprofit that coordinates pro bono representation for immigrants. During the last year, the organization did over 2,400 legal intakes for unaccompanied minors who required attorneys. The group found that 63 percent of the minors were “obvious winners” in their quest for asylum because their cases exhibited many of the same issues encountered by previous cases where asylum was granted. Ryan said the vast majority of the cases as yet undecided still have a good chance to claim a need for humanitarian relief.
The court cases are proving Ryan correct. 98 percent of the cases for unaccompanied minors brought by RAICES have been won.
Clinton cited President Obama’s immigration record and said the president was in a difficult position “because there are laws that impose certain obligations on him” as a result of immigration laws. She said the laws have to be changed.
“I would be very open to trying to figure out ways to change the law, even if we don’t get to comprehensive immigration reform, to provide more leeway and more discretion from the executive branch.”
Her remarks didn’t sit well with Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream. “Who does Hillary stand with: our families or the Deporter-In-Chief? If separating children from families is not who we are as Americans, then Hillary Clinton should join other Democratic leaders in calling on President Obama to take executive action to provide relief and reform for families still under the threat of deportation.”
Ann Werner is the author of thrillers and other things. Visit her at Ann Werner on the Web