Editorial: What Shall We Call Them?
It is obvious that media outlets and Americans in general are having a difficult time deciding what to call the underage children, who have crossed the southern Rio Grande border, numbering about 60,000 at last count.
We have seen them called everything from undocumented immigrants, illegal immigrants, alien minors, illegals, and then some descriptive terms like criminals, thieves, gangs, and the like.
In writing about them, El Editor has mostly used the term “illegal immigrants” unless we are quoting some other source. But we have arrived at the conclusion that these underage children, and in some cases their parent or guardian who may be with them, qualify for refugee status.
In our discussions we have concluded that a more appropriate description would be “Central American refugees”.
The majority of these refugees are coming from countries other than Mexico.
To further clarify, here is an excerpt from the U.S. Department of Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Unaccompanied Alien Children Program. Here’s what they say about the children’s origins:
“In FY 2013, origin of youth in this program was as follows: Guatemala (37%); El Salvador (26%); Honduras (30%); Mexico (3%); Ecuador (2%); and Other (3%). Over the years, the breakdown per country of origin has remained relatively constant.”
The reasons they come here are varied, but the the Human Services Administration lists the following reasons for them risking their lives to come here.
To escape violence, abuse or persecution in their home countries.
To find family members already residing in the United States
To seek work to support themselves, their family, or their own children
Were brought into the United States by human trafficking rings
They say that “The age of these individuals, their separation from parents and relatives, and the hazardous journey they take make them especially vulnerable to human trafficking, and exploitation.
To us, these refugees represent an entire generation that through no fault of their own have been subjected to violence, sexual assaults, gang recruitment, domestic violence, and human trafficking.
They have already been through enough. We can at least respect the law that says that they must be treated humanely, processed, adjudicated, and deported if that is the outcome.
Until then, let’s have some compassion and simply call them human beings in search of compassion.
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