Honduran president links border crisis to U.S. policy divide

WASHINGTON Thu Jul 24, 2014 6:02pm EDT

A bus carrying deportees from the U.S. leaves the international airport in San Pedro Sula, northern Honduras July 14, 2014. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera

A bus carrying deportees from the U.S. leaves the international airport in San Pedro Sula, northern Honduras July 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jorge Cabrera

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers' inability to reach an agreement on immigration policy is at least partly to blame for a crisis that has seen thousands of children flee Honduras for the U.S. border, Honduran President Juan Hernandez said on Thursday.

Human and drug traffickers are "perversely" exploiting confusion about U.S. immigration policy, Hernandez told reporters on Capitol Hill, flanked by Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina and U.S. House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, before a meeting with House Democrats.

Traffickers encourage Central Americans to risk the dangerous journey north by telling them that U.S. policy allows them to stay in the United States.

Hernandez, Perez Molina and El Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren are scheduled to meet on Friday with U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to discuss ways to stop the flow of children migrating from the three Central American countries.

In recent weeks, U.S. officials have talked about the need to beef up long-term aid to the three countries, as well as focusing such funds on economic development, as a long-term step toward discouraging mass migration.

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey warned, however, that increased U.S. assistance must be accompanied by "equal commitments and funding from the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Menendez made his remarks in a statement after meeting with the Central American leaders.

An estimated 90,000 "unaccompanied minors" are projected to show up at the U.S. border with Mexico this year, hoping to escape gang violence, poverty and domestic abuse and join relatives in the United States.

The children have overwhelmed U.S. resources at the Texas-Mexico border and are also creating a political problem for Obama, who has long been pushing for changes to U.S. immigration policy.

The U.S. Senate, controlled by Obama's Democrats, last year passed a comprehensive immigration bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for nearly 12 million undocumented residents, some of whom are now encouraging their children in Central America to come to the United States.

But the legislative effort died amid opposition from House Republicans.

Hernandez, speaking in Spanish through a translator, called "coyote" drug smugglers "an enormous criminal hulk" and said that while many operate in Central America and Mexico, others are "firmly planted ... in the United States under American jurisdiction."

The criminal gangs prey upon children in Central America, threatening violence and death if they refuse to join their gangs. But they also promise to bring children to the United States - for a large fee - to be reunited with their relatives.

U.S. officials are pushing the governments of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, home to most of the migrant children, to do more to get the message out that they will not be allowed to stay in the United States.

The U.S. Congress is deeply divided over Obama's request for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to help address the crisis.

Both the Senate and Republican-controlled House are considering cutting the funding level. But Republicans also want to attach changes to a 2008 anti-trafficking law that would let Obama deport the children more quickly, which would discourage the illegal migration.

Democrats say any such move must be considered separately from the emergency funds. Pelosi, who opposes changing the 2008 law, said attention needs to be paid to the children's humanitarian needs and "due process" in their deportation proceedings.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Paul Simao)

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Comments (6)
SunnyDaySam wrote:
Juan Hernandez is absolutely correct. Where is the Republicon Comprehensive Immigration Bill???? I’m tired of their ‘the dog ate our homework’ excuse. And Boehner is the biggest failure as Speaker in our history. He can’t get ANYTHING done, except 50+ failed votes against the ACA. GOP Losers. vote anti-R!

Jul 24, 2014 1:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Psyllicon wrote:
Blatantly misleading — ‘unaccompanied alien children’ are defined by ICE doctrine as those who have NO parent or guardian present in the United States. This article again attempts to misrepresent the fact that the great majority of these arrivals already have family present.

“An estimated 90,000 “unaccompanied minors” are projected to show up at the U.S. border with Mexico this year, hoping to escape gang violence, poverty and domestic abuse and join relatives in the United States.”

They are being placed with family (and self-declared family, however unverified) at the taxpayer’s expense. This is in direct conflict with the law..

Title 8, U.S.C. ยง 1324(a) defines several distinct offenses related to aliens. Subsection 1324(a)(1)(i)-(v) prohibits alien smuggling, domestic transportation of unauthorized aliens, concealing or harboring unauthorized aliens, encouraging or inducing unauthorized aliens to enter the United States, and engaging in a conspiracy or aiding and abetting any of the preceding acts. Subsection 1324(a)(2) prohibits bringing or attempting to bring unauthorized aliens to the United States in any manner whatsoever, even at a designated port of entry. Subsection 1324(a)(3).

Criminal Resource Manual:

http://www.justice.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/crm01907.htm

Jul 24, 2014 2:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Central American leaders come to the meeting of Democrats to hold ou their hands for aid, in return they spin their countries failed corrupt and bankpupt cultures into a US immigration problem.

Jul 24, 2014 4:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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