News / USA

US: Return of Honduran Women, Children Sends Message

A woman and her son step into a bus, bound to take deportees from U.S. to a bus station, at the international airport in San Pedro Sula, northern Honduras July 14, 2014.
A woman and her son step into a bus, bound to take deportees from U.S. to a bus station, at the international airport in San Pedro Sula, northern Honduras July 14, 2014.
Reuters

The U.S. government's deportation on Monday of a group of Honduran women and children should be seen by Central America as a message that President Barack Obama is serious when he says illegal migrants will be sent home, the White House said.

The charter flight from New Mexico to San Pedro Sula, the city with the highest murder rate in the world, transported 17 Honduran women, as well as 12 girls and nine boys aged between 18 months and 15 years.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the return of the Hondurans should be a clear signal to those thinking about crossing the border that "they're entitled to due process but they will not be welcome to this country with open arms."

The return of the Hondurans was the most high-profile example of Obama's struggle to gain control of a chaotic border crisis that is overwhelming immigration resources and leading to scattered protests from people angry at the government for housing some border crossers in communities around the country.

Organizations working with illegal migrants and Honduran youths said the U.S. flight was largely symbolic and would have little impact on Honduran children looking to escape a country racked by gang violence and the world's highest murder rate.

"This is a problem about the country, about the conditions in the country," said Gerardo Rivera, a researcher for Casa Alianza, a youth organization in Honduras. "What they're looking for is to flee from dangerous situations, flee from poverty, flee from a lack of opportunities."

Honduran President Juan Hernandez on Monday blamed U.S. drug policy for sparking violence in Central American countries and driving a surge of migration to the United States.

Obama is attempting to balance competing interests: Reassure Americans that the migrants, many of them unaccompanied children who have streamed into Texas across Mexico's border by the thousands, will be sent home, while making clear to immigration advocates that they will be given due process of law.

Arizona protest

The White House's Earnest said Obama did not personally approve the return of the Hondurans on Monday. It was a decision made by the Homeland Security Department, implementing a policy  the president had set out, he said.

The tens of thousands of unaccompanied migrants entering the United States have added a toxic mix to a raging debate over whether to approve comprehensive immigration reform to cover some 11 million undocumented people in the country. Reform is a priority of Obama's, but it is dead until after November congressional elections.

Waving U.S. flags and playing patriotic music, dozens of protesters demonstrated in southern Arizona on Tuesday against the arrival of undocumented immigrants for processing at a center near the border before being returned to their homelands.

In a scene reminiscent of similar protests in California, about 65 demonstrators gathered at a fork in the road near the small town of Oracle to complain that the federal government's response to a surge of new arrivals from Central America was putting their communities at risk.

The government's return of the Hondurans could help reassure Republicans that Obama is serious about controlling the border as he tries to persuade Congress to approve an emergency request for $3.7 billion to bolster border security and speed deportation of the recent crossers.

The proposal has gotten a cool reception on Capitol Hill thus far, with Republicans blaming Obama for the crisis and wanting more emphasis on border enforcement before they give him any money.

Republicans want Obama to make good on his promise to propose a change to a 2008 anti-trafficking law to make it easier to deport the children. Under the law, children from Central America cannot be turned away at the border but must be given a hearing to determine if they qualify for humanitarian relief.

Many of Obama's Democratic allies oppose changing the law, fearing it would deny them the right to have their cases heard by an immigration judge and if sent home, could put them in danger from the criminal gangs that they had fled.

"This is not the middle ground, this is the deportation-only agenda dressed up in sheep's clothing," said Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.

"The backbone and commitment to justice of the strongest and most generous nation in the world is trembling at the presence of 50,000 children and responding by taking away legal rights from vulnerable children. It is shameful," Gutierrez said.

But Representative Matt Salmon, a member of the Republican border security working group that visited Honduras and Guatemala over the weekend, said the best way to end the border crisis was to accelerate the return of unaccompanied minors.

"If we don't send that message through our actions not our rhetoric we will continue to have wave after wave after wave" of illegal immigrant children, Salmon said.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid