Children painting.  Photo by Joseph Raymond Kolker, Buenos Aires, 2009.

Central American children: what is to be done? — Jennifer Harbury

1. DEMAND TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS, or TPS for Hondurans, Guatemalans, Mexicans (at least the most violent Mexican border- states), and Salvadorans. This is a clean, simple, and tested solution.  Although imperfect, it will serve as a “cease fire” while better solutions are worked through. It will also respond to the current demands to just send everyone back right now. We will be issuing draft petitions for the White House shortly, as well as letters to email urgently to all Senate offices. The more church and human rights organizations that can visit the White House and insist on this measure, the better.

TPS has been granted before to Haitians, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans. The cut- off date would begin as of the date President Obama signs the papers. It does not have to go through Congress. Everyone already here could stay and also work. However, the status temporary, so in a year or so the dangers in the home countries will be re- evaluated and people could be sent back then.

This is tried and true.  It will in fact save the government huge amounts of time and money by swiftly resolving people’s status, releasing them, and allowing them to work and support themselves, instead of being detained in government sponsored centers. It will greatly relieve the huge back up of cases in the immigration courts. It would also slow the surge if people understand there is a specific cut- off date.

2. All minors should be provided with an attorney

3. Religious, human rights and civic groups should be granted immediate access to Border Patrol warehouses as well as Office of Refugee Resettlement sponsored shelters. Reasonable provisions of food and blankets should be permitted at the Border Patro centers.

Photograph © 2009 Joseph Raymond Kolker, used with permission. Please note that this photograph does not depict Central Americans fleeing violence, but children in Buenos Aires playing in what appears to be a safe situation…as all children should be able to do.

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