An article in the New York TIMES on Monday, October 6, 2014, “A Smuggled Girl’s Odyssey of False Promises and Fear”(http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/06/world/americas/a-smuggled-girls-odyssey-guatemala-migration-abduction.html) paints a vivid and terrifying picture of the realities of the child migrant tragedy that is currently underway.
The story is of 16 year old Cecilia’s attempt to leave Guatemala to get to the U.S., in a desperate effort to earn some money so her family could survive. Her stepfather had been murdered and her mother and five children were living in her aunt’s tiny home, with three beds for ten people. The journey is a chilling account of the young girl’s victimization by smugglers into the U.S. Like other children trying to make the journey, she was told by the smugglers that she would be given papers when she got to the U.S.–a lie that is being peddled for huge sums of money by the coyotes. Along the way the smugglers called her relatives, extorting large sums of money with the threat of imminent death for the child if the money is not paid.
“Behind the surge of young migrants showing up for a shot at the American dream is a system of cruel and unregulated capitalism with a proven ability to adapt. The human export industry…is now worth billions of dollars…and employs a growing array of opportunists who trap, rape and rob from the point of departure to the end of the road.”
CoFiA is receiving some calls from relatives who know a child has arrived at some center in the U.S. but must have a citizen to sign for them before they will be released. These children come into our society traumatized, totally unprepared for life in a strange land where they are not wanted, and often having to adapt to life with relatives–or strangers–who they do not know and are living in poverty not much less dire than what they fled.
This situation was caused by U.S. foreign policy in collusion with the dictators who we supported as they raped their own countries. We can change it by changing our policies to be consonant with the democratic principles we claim to believe.
Instead we blame–and incarcerate–the children.