Social Justice Candle - July 20, 2014

Social Justice Candle July 20, 2014

Special Collection to support BorderLinks

by Beth Schewe

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, then I am sure you have heard that the number of unaccompanied children crossing into the US from Central America has risen exponentially. While about 6,800 children per year were detained 3 years ago, this year the number of children detained is expected to reach 90,000.

Many media outlets are discussing this as a crisis of immigration policy, or a crisis of illegal immigration.

But if you have been listening to some other news sources, including last week’s op ed in by Sonia Nazario in the New York Times called “The Children of the War on Drugs,” you might have heard a different word: “refugee.”  The UN and other international organizations have made a convincing case that these children are refugees seeking asylum and need to be treated as such.

The children coming here, mainly from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, are not searching for economic opportunity.  They are fleeing violence so extreme that their experience is similar to that of child soldiers.  One young boy, for instance, has known 8 people who were murdered and seen three killed right in front of him.  His story is not unusual.  And, as you might imagine, it is even more dangerous for girls, who are too afraid to step outside their homes.

In Honduras, in particular, the drug cartels have taken over elementary schools, pushing drugs on children and forcing them to work as lookouts and make deliveries.  The gangs rule over schools and neighborhoods, causing relentless violence and pressuring children to join gangs.

I could go on and on about the causes of this refugee crisis, including the United States’ failed war on drugs, which cut of Caribbean drug routes but did nothing to lower US demand for drugs, thus encouraging gangs to reroute the drug supply Central America.

But instead I will tell you to look into it on your own, become informed, and support those organizations that make a difference, organizations such as BorderLinks – today’s special collection recipient whose mission is to use education to create “a world in which people, within and across social borders, respect and care for each other, value and celebrate differences, and build healthy and just communities where everyone has equal opportunity for a full and dignified life.”  Surely this is in line with our UU principles of justice, equity and compassion and a world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.

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