Humanitarian crisis requires acting in children’s best interests

Note: This post by Appleseed Child Welfare Director Sarah Helvey and Immigrants & Communities staff attorney Omaid Zabih addresses the recent humanitarian crisis in Central America that has resulted in children seeking asylum in the U.S.

(Photo credit: Daily Times)  Thousands of children are fleeing incomprehensible levels of violence from countries with the highest murder rates in the world.

(Photo credit: Daily Times) Thousands of children are fleeing incomprehensible levels of violence from countries with the highest murder rates in the world.

Tens of thousands of children from Central America have been forced to flee from their home countries to the border due to unimaginable violence. This has created a humanitarian issue that requires a prompt, moral, and compassionate response from our political leaders to ensure that we act in the best interests of the children.

President Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion to address this humanitarian issue. The proposal, unfortunately, emphasizes expedited removal of children back to a highly dangerous situation instead of focusing on proper screening and protecting vulnerable children seeking safety, many of whom could be eligible for asylum.

Appleseed also is deeply concerned that the proposal would eliminate important protections of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008. This bill provides a number of protections to make sure that unaccompanied children receive proper care and due process in the U.S. The President’s proposal would undermine these existing safeguards.

We need a response that lives up to our fundamental values – one that recognizes the trauma  these children have been through and that provides them with a meaningful opportunity to share their story and be properly screened for legal relief under the existing law.

Please call or email your U.S. Representative and Senators to let them know Nebraskans are counting on them to ensure the best interests of children are served and to maintain the TVPRA’s safeguards. We should strengthen protections for children – not weaken them.

Representatives

Senators

Thank you for taking a moment to ensure that Congress responds to this humanitarian issue with compassion and fairness that puts children first.

If you want to learn more about the root causes of the issue, here are some informative resources:

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