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Washington, D.C. – In response to the huge numbers of child refugees fleeing from harm in their home countries seeking refuge and protection in the United States, Jobs With Justice issued the following statement:
“Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children have arrived at our southern border, reaching out for a helping hand to escape harm. These children are primarily coming from Central America, fleeing countries where violence, persecution and human trafficking are rampant and where organized crime has a hold on their communities. The United States, its leaders and its citizens have an immediate responsibility to respond in a manner that meets our obligations under U.S. and international law and recognizes our shared humanity with these children and their families. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released a report in March recognizing the situation for what it is—a refugee crisis—yet some people continue to play politics with the issue.
“These children should receive a fair hearing in front of a judge with the effective assistance of legal counsel. We must protect due process rights, so that individuals can access the protections that they may qualify for under our laws. We have a duty not only at the national level, but also at the state and local levels, to welcome these children and act in their best interest to ensure their basic health and well-being is provided for. There should be no room for hate, vitriol and racism in this country, only tolerance and compassion.
“Fundamentally, the refugee crisis will not be solved by increasing the already record number of deportations. Calls for further border militarization and greater enforcement that rips families apart and prevents workers from exercising their labor and civil rights are politics at its worse. If any policies need to be reexamined, it is those that have contributed to the current conditions in Central America that these children and women are risking their lives to escape, including the destructive consequences of CAFTA.
“There are two important but distinct crises that our nation’s leaders must resolve at once: the immediate emergency refugee crisis and the broken immigration system that has plagued our country for years. Any attempt to conflate these two issues is intended to redouble the efforts of political extremists who want to cripple any reform of the immigration system. It’s a disingenuous ploy and a dangerous distraction that could come at the expense of protecting deserving women and child refugees.”