As part of the policy to halt all migrants from entering our country at this time, our government has stopped allowing unaccompanied children to ask for asylum at our borders. Some children are simply not admitted, but some are deported to their home countries without the opportunity to speak to a social worker or plead for asylum. Tragically, that means future Bethany and Viator Houses of Hospitality participants who have fled horrendous violence are being turned away from the safety they seek. Sr. Cathy Fedewa, CSFN, on the boards of both facilities, has cited the decreased number of residents as representative of this unjust policy. This is the situation in most of the programs whose outreach is to these vulnerable children. Space and care are available contrary to what some of the media sources report.
This [policy of deportation without the opportunity to speak with a social worker or plead for asylum] was a major departure from previous policy and was prompted by the current pandemic situation. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) transfers the children to the custody of government officials in their home countries to reunite them with their families, if possible. While CBP can make exceptions to those orders, few exceptions are made.
It is argued that the move violates the Trafficking Victim Protection Reauthorization Act, which specifically lays out how unaccompanied children must be processed and cared for
arrival at the border.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler stated aptly that, “Children do not have to be put in harm’s way to protect us from the coronavirus pandemic…the Department of Homeland Security has the ability and capacity to protect both these children and the public.”
Children who come to the United States seeking protection are fleeing violence, poverty, trafficking and other threats to their lives. Turning them away at the border means they are waiting in Mexico alone and open to more of the same tragic circumstances there.
Our nation has the ability to welcome these children and keep them safe during this crisis.
Please reflect on the plight of these children and consider calling your congressional representative to speak out for these children at our border.
Here is the Capitol switchboard number you can call to leave messages for
your senators and representatives: (202) 224-3121.