Our New Refugee Crisis

Despite the ginned-up hysteria about scabies-ridden, drug-resistant-TB-carrying gangbangers being bused to our sacred borders, there are smarter discussions to be had about the children fleeing gang violence in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

Commentor Martin phrased it well:

This is not an immigration crisis. This is a refugee crisis, and it needs to be spoken of as one.

These are not people that have decided to run to the US as a choice for a better life, these are people that are fleeing violence at home. They’re little different than the refugees piled up along the borders of Syria. They’re different only in the sense that they didn’t stop in Mexico but continued all the way to the US – probably due in part to the fact that Mexico’s drug crime problem is only marginally better than the rest of Central America’s. So the calls for sending them across the border is simply one to turn our refugee crisis into Mexico’s refugee crisis. That’s not going to happen because that’s not how the US treats our neighbors, regardless of who is in the White House.

Obama needs to speak directly to these point because public opinion is that these are people from Mexico crossing the border to take advantage of our immigration system. That’s simply not the case.

Not every media outlet is spreading the ignorance — here’s a short clip [warning: autoplay] from a Boston news station, sympathetically interviewing a ten-year-old who’s recently joined his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in eight years, in a local city where “twenty percent of the students have arrived in just the last two to three years”.

And here’s some good advice from another BJ commentor:

Even though no one is making it easy to help these kids right now, there are a few things one can try. The system is a long way from offering them foster care, etc. To move that and other humane possibilities along, one would have to put tremendous pressure on Congress and the Administration, particularly the Department of Homeland Security. Try calling 202.282.8010, the office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs; and also Craig Fugate’s office at FEMA, 202.646.3900. Both offices are also reachable via mail and e-mail.

To provide short-term emergency help — kids as young as 3 are “sleeping” on concrete floors — the usual suspects have been trying to get access. The Red Cross is a good example. Another group I can recommend is Kids In Need of Defense (KIND).

And if you are, or know, a lawyer who would like to donate time to help these kids, I recommend getting in touch with the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Gregory Chen, the Director of Advocacy, can be reached at advocacy@aila.org or via 202.507.7600.

If you have other suggestions, or resource links, post them in the comments.

76 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    Thanks for this, I dropped what I could on KIND. Let’s see if we can do as well as we have for other causes.

  2. 2
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Is there such a thing as a compassion virus we can inject Republicans with?

  3. 3
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Should have said “infect” not “inject” above… A Freudian slip I guess as there are more than a few GOPers I would like to inject something into….Anyway:

    “A senior Republican has proposed that the US government should build “warehouses” in Central America where thousands of unaccompanied children who have attempted to seek asylum in the US could be deported and processed on their return to their countries of origin.”

    Because warehousing children, it’s the American way.

  4. 4
    Derelict says:

    The U.S. treats all refugees terribly. We created millions of Iraqi refugees, and then refused to take them. This forced Syria and Jordan to taken them, which was one of the things that led to the Syrian civil war and the creation of ISIS.

    Turning away child refugees from Central America (where we’ve spent decades undermining any form of effective government) is just par for the course for us.

  5. 5
    JPL says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Another republican suggested ankle monitors. That way they can make sure they stay in that warehouse.

  6. 6
    Baud says:


    There is! It’s called multiple electoral defeats.

  7. 7
    Botsplainer says:


    Is there such a thing as a compassion virus we can inject Republicans with?

    I find them to be perfect exemplars of the Christianity they so loudly and proudly proclaim to be a part of – a sex and race obsessed apocalyptic death cult figureheaded by a narcissistic, inconsistent, violent, petty and raging psychopath of a deity.

  8. 8
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @JPL: That Republican would be president-in-waiting John S. McCain.

  9. 9
    Penus says:

    Commenter Martin is wrong, too. They are neither immigrants seeking a better life nor refugees fleeing violence. They are a cudgel to be used against the Muslim Negro currently occupying the White House.

  10. 10
    sharl says:

    What Raven @1 said. I gave to KIND as well. Their own 2012 report looks pretty good (.pdf, 28pp) as far as their goals, methodologies and financials (p.20), and it helps that known reputable folk (IMO) are running the show. I didn’t see KIND listed with the charity watchdog orgs I usually use, except for GuideStar; I didn’t sign up to see their full report, but the report preview was pretty encouraging IMO.
    As always, YMMV, FYI, FWIW.
    OK. CUL8R…

  11. 11
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Baud: Nothing in my life, including multiple electoral defeats, has led me to believe they are capable of caring about anything but themselves. Remember how after 2012 when they promised to take women’s issues serious and to push for better healthcare, pay equality, and rape prevention for women? Neither do I.

  12. 12
    Baud says:


    That’s only because they retained the House and the Supreme Court. And it’s been a long time since Republicans have actually feared losing to Democrats. That fear is the only thing that has any hope of causing them to moderate.

  13. 13
    Baud says:


    Not that I see that happening any time soon. The GOP has gone so far down the hole of identity politics that I don’t see how the extricate themselves from that position, regardless of how a rational party would respond.

  14. 14
    Punchy says:

    Cant we just ask all these child refugees to make our iPhones? Made in the USA!

  15. 15
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Baud: I’ll admit that getting them to moderate on some of their positions is, in theory anyway, possible, but I was talking about the impossibility of getting them to actually recognize that their fellow human beings are, you know, human.

  16. 16
    Baud says:


    You know what they say: If everyone is a human being then no one is a human being.

  17. 17
    Botsplainer says:


    OK, so here’s the deal on pro-lifers – it is a cheap way of pretending you care about people. You don’t have to actually do anything long term. You don’t bear the costs of childbirth or the emotional weight of the thousand decisions you make each day while raising the child. All you have to do is promote the flawed theology of a bunch of closeted patriarchs (that they told you is true) and try and turn it into law. Occasionally, you get to stand on street corners and scream “slut” and “harlot” at young women walking into clinics, so that is a mitzvah that lets you vent your rage, otherwise, you don’t really have to do much – your victims wind up bearing all the responsibility for your beliefs, and you can smugly walk into your tax exemplar, tax deductible cult social club under the pretense that you’re a charitable lover of mankind.

  18. 18
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: like it says on the statue, “Send us your poor, your tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free and we’ll stuff ’em in a warehouse.”

  19. 19
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Botsplainer: How did we ever allow a bunch of pro war, pro death penalty, numbnutted dimwits call themselves “pro-life”?

  20. 20
    AnonPhenom says:

    Once again the Reagan era comes back to bite us in the ass. Blowback from supporting and the cutting loose the Mujahideen in the form of 9/11 and now our support of death squads and the drug trade to fund an anti-communist ‘Freedumb’ crusade creates this humanitarian crisis. When are we going to stop acting like an overgrown child with a sledge hammer where our policies are concerned?

  21. 21
  22. 22

    Big union news out of Chattanooga: On Friday the UAW opened a local chapter to represent VW workers. This morning VW will announce the Chattanooga plant is getting the SUV production line. It’s worth 1,350 jobs.

    Right wingers are apoplectic. Unions create jobs OH NOES CANNOT BE.

  23. 23
    Joey Maloney says:


    Is there such a thing as a compassion virus we can inject Republicans with?

    I think I read somewhere that the toxoplasmosis virus seems to lead to changes in human neurochemistry that are associated with greater empathy and cooperation. There’s some very weird speculation about how infection changes the behavior of both rats and humans to help the virus spread.

    One of the ways you get toxoplasmosis if from handling or ingesting cat feces. Now, I’m not saying that it would be a positive moral good to go around knocking Republicans to the ground and forcing their mouths full of cat shit. But it would be entertaining.

  24. 24
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Joey Maloney: I can get on board with that.

  25. 25
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I really liked Martin’s point, and thought that if Obama wanted to “go big,” that ought to be the line he takes: “we already have laws in place for this kind of crisis: these children are refugees and it is the promise of America that we look after the huddled masses who yearn to breathe free.” Pretty hard to rebut that, no? It would have the problem of seeming to encourage more, but maybe it’s the right thing to do. And convene a humanitarian conference with the Central American states whose policies are creating this kind of desperation.

  26. 26
    low-tech cyclist says:

    I’ve stopped trusting the Red Cross.

    I became wary of them when I found out they continued raising funds, supposedly to help the victims of 9/11, well after it was clear that it would be impossible for them to spend all the money raised on the limited number of 9/11 survivors.

    But the final straw was Katrina. They were raising money within a couple of days of Katrina hitting N.O. supposedly to help pay for what they were already doing to aid the victims of Katrina in New Orleans. I only found out later that, at the time they were making these appeals, they hadn’t even been allowed into New Orleans yet.

    That’s the last time I ever gave them a nickel.

  27. 27
    FlipYrWhig says:


    We created millions of Iraqi refugees, and then refused to take them. This forced Syria and Jordan to taken them

    I’m a little surprised that this hasn’t been made more of. We’ve been hearing about cross-border refugee flows for decades all over the world. Now we have our own. You’d think this would create more sympathy, not less. But I’ve handled a lot of cat shit in my day, so maybe that’s the toxoplasmosis talking.

  28. 28
    Mike in NC says:

    Are there no prisons? Are there no work-houses?

    / Scrooge McCain

  29. 29
    MomSense says:


    “A senior Republican has proposed that the US government should build “warehouses” in Central America where thousands of unaccompanied children who have attempted to seek asylum in the US could be deported and processed on their return to their countries of origin.”

    Because as we all know, Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, but I will not care for them, for the Processing Warehouse belongs to such as these.”

  30. 30
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @AnonPhenom: Actually it is the history of the United States in Central America. Whether it was backing Somoza or the brutal dictators in Guatemala and Honduras(including the infamous genocidal evangelical and Pat Robertson’s BFF Christian, Rios Montt) The US has been on the cause of misery in that region, all for cheap fruits among other things.

  31. 31
    raven says:

    @sharl: Boy that went over big. maybe if some of these kids had a dog with them?

  32. 32
    Cassidy says:

    We should create a new border on the north aside of Texas and bring all the kids in and leave the crazy in that shithole.

  33. 33
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    I’ve stopped trusting the Red Cross.

    Most recently they have refused to release how they spent their Hurricane Sandy funds. The reason given? Trade secrets.

    Yeah, I’m done with them too.

  34. 34
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Southern Beale:

    This is one of the most encouraging news stories I’ve seen in a long time.

  35. 35
    Belafon says:


    Pretty hard to rebut that, no?

    We all know that only means whites. (sarcasm)

    We know it’s real easy for those who want to to completely ignore how fucked up their statements would be if it applied to them.

  36. 36
    Another Holocene Human says:

    I wonder if a Boston station is a little more sympathetic because Boston has long welcomed Central American refugees and sent aid and envoys to that region (for example after the great earthquake and mudslides 15 years ago) because they are fellow Catholics and the normally cantankerous Irish recognize them as such. The Anglos in Southern Texas are Baptists.

    Almost 20 years ago I worked in a kitchen in Boston with a Salvadoran who had come there fleeing gang violence. Boston was also a haven for Haitians, Vietnamese Catholics, Dominicans, etcet. Plenty of illegal Irish workers too. Although it helps to have friends in high places–Ted Kennedy got a law passed that makes it very, VERY easy for Irish to enter the US legally.

    Oddly, Irish unionized construction workers don’t riot when their wages are being undercut by under-the-table no-papers Irish immigrants. Fun fact.

    (I am Irish too. This kind of stuff has always disgusted me.)

  37. 37
    Woodrowfan says:

    they’re more likely to be vaccinated? On an unrelated note Sarin Palin and Michele Bachman claim that the Central American kids are all autistic.

  38. 38
    Another Holocene Human says:


    The U.S. treats all refugees terribly.

    You can go back earlier, the 80s and 90s the US refused Haitian refugees entry and refused to make humanitarian exceptions for any other war refugees while European countries and Canada undertook acts of compassion. Let’s face it, even US regions are reluctant to accept internal refugees. 3rd world inequality, 3rd world mindset.

    Every time someone gets on a high horse about how Israel’s neighbors refused to take in Palestinian refugees, just remember that during WWII most of the US government was deadset to keep European Jewish refugees out of the country (there was a minor official in state who defied this but overall it was just a massive calamity) when they fled a certain death. At the same time Britain took in thousands of refugees in the Kindertransport.

    We have larger houses than Europeans and bigger cars, but cold hearts.

  39. 39

    For immigration matters, I find Greg Siskind’s blog to be informative. He is an immigration attorney and been blogging about these issues since the late 90s.

    ETA: Here is the link

  40. 40
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Botsplainer: It’s a licit way to unleash the rage and bile you feel about your life and circumstances on others. Unhappy, bitter, depressed? Go terrorize someone younger and more naive than you.

  41. 41
    Woodrowfan says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: bookmarked, thanks….

  42. 42
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: no no no, it’s a culture of life, like when bread goes moldy in the refridgerator

  43. 43
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Southern Beale: I hope they burst a few blood vessels. Maybe it’ll be like that little snip they do on manic patients. Or homemade electroshock treatment.


    Can’t believe that Germans are invading the US now teaching us how to behave.

  44. 44
    PurpleGirl says:


    they’re more likely to be vaccinated?

    Well, for one there are all these overseas aid groups who do vaccinations — they just go into a village, open the tent (whatever) and start giving the children shots. Village elders or government workers tell the parents to bring the children in and they do. No TV so the parents don’t hear that McCarthy woman talk about how bad vaccines are.

  45. 45
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @low-tech cyclist: MSF is a lot better than Red Cross these days, less overhead, but I got really pissed off at their fundraising spam/tactics and refused to give them another dime, either.

    There’s a group called Mercy Corps that is really good too. Not as large, only in certain places like Haiti. They do not hound the fuck out of you, would give again.

  46. 46
    Woodrowfan says:

    @PurpleGirl: or read whale.to or some “natural medicine” woo site.

  47. 47
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: I thought it was blood lust, cheap fruits my ass. Americans don’t eat fruits and vegetables, that’s a fact.

  48. 48
    WaterGirl says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Are we supposed to know what MSF is? I have no idea.

  49. 49
    Steeplejack says:


    I’m guessing he means Médecins Sans Frontières.

  50. 50
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Cassidy: Not Oklahoma, that’s even more of a shithole than Texas!!

  51. 51
    Chyron HR says:


    “Médecins Sans Frontières”.

    (Or “Games Without Frontiers” in English.)

  52. 52
    raven says:

    @WaterGirl: Doctors Without Borders

  53. 53
    Elizabelle says:

    Nobelist Nadine Gordimer has died, aged 90.


    JOHANNESBURG — South African Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer, one of the literary world’s most powerful voices against apartheid, has died at the age of 90, her family said on Monday.

    Gordimer died peacefully at her Johannesburg home on Sunday evening in the presence of her children, Hugo and Oriane, a statement from the family said.

  54. 54
    Cassidy says:

    @Another Holocene Human: True, but we can build wind farms there.

  55. 55
    WaterGirl says:

    thanks to all for the translations!

  56. 56
    Punchy says:

    @WaterGirl: Minnesota Subway Facilities. They’re in dire need of new snowplows, no-hockey-stick enforcement officers, and rail de-icers. Hence, the fundraising initiative.

  57. 57
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Chyron HR: If looks could kill they probably will.

  58. 58
    Amir Khalid says:

    Medecins Sans Frontieres, or in English Doctors Without Borders.

  59. 59
    Punchy says:

    Doctors Without Borders

    Where in hell do they buy their textbooks?

  60. 60
    WaterGirl says:

    @Punchy: Yeah. gotta go sign up to help with the snow plows. Once everyone hears about this one, the red cross donation offices will soon be like the Maytag repair place.

  61. 61
    Botsplainer says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    I thought it was blood lust, cheap fruits my ass. Americans don’t eat fruits and vegetables, that’s a fact.

    It was actually more about excess profit for 1% skim. The benefits weren’t trickling down to consumers as a whole.

  62. 62
    Amir Khalid says:

    Is Borders even still in business? I was under the impression that nowadays everyone just buys e-books on Amazon.

  63. 63

    @Amir Khalid: There is a Barnes and Noble, not too far from where I live and at least two independent book stores

  64. 64

    The U.S. treats all refugees terribly. We created millions of Iraqi refugees, and then refused to take them. This forced Syria and Jordan to taken them, which was one of the things that led to the Syrian civil war and the creation of ISIS.

    Turning away child refugees from Central America (where we’ve spent decades undermining any form of effective government) is just par for the course for us.

    @Derelict: I’ll just say this as “the last word” on the subject: we sent boatloads of Jews back to Nazi Germany. After we’d found out what they were doing there.

    Simply nothing else to be said about “American Compassion”.

  65. 65
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Southern Beale: Re UAW in TN: There’s a good thread over at Lawyers Guns and Money on the labor law and other ramifications of this sort of union setup from a day ago….

  66. 66
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Amir Khalid: That’s right, Border’s no longer exists. (sniff, sniff cause I really liked them.) But I remember when B&N wasn’t a great big demon, and continue to buy there. Also, so many of the magazine stores where I used to buy magazines have closed that I buy magazines at B&N.

  67. 67
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Slacktivist linked to this interesting article: Christians worship a child who fled violence in his home country

    The wingnut “Christians” in the comments are not amused.

  68. 68

    UURISE is a project out of the U/U church that focuses on immigration and refugee issues. They help with legal issues and resettlement and do some political work as well. They also work with groups like Humane Borders who are focused on providing water and first aid to immigrants so they don’t die crossing the desert.

  69. 69
    Cervantes says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    MSF is a lot better than Red Cross these days, less overhead, but I got really pissed off at their fundraising spam/tactics and refused to give them another dime, either.

    Despite its “mainstream” legitimacy, I think some doubts about the Red Cross are justified. MSF has its problems as well in terms of efficacy: to take one example, they have been criticized by Paul Farmer because their choice of medicines is not always the best in the long run.

    At any rate those are both large organizations that work in many areas and fields.

    KIND is good and it has been, and is, focused on these kids. I would recommend supporting KIND.

  70. 70
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Bubblegum Tate: I read only a few comments and then came back here. I didn’t even get to the worst comments before deciding that I didn’t want to read wingnuts this morning.

  71. 71
    Cervantes says:

    Re the UAW and Volkswagen, etc., there were two relevant discussions (here and here) recently.

  72. 72
    Cervantes says:

    @Amir Khalid: Anti-datum: I don’t buy e-books and I don’t buy anything on Amazon.

  73. 73
  74. 74
    Goblue72 says:

    @Bubblegum Tate: Thanks for link. Those comments are all the proof that anyone should need to show that those so-called “Christians” are anything but. Bunch of sociopaths is more like it.

  75. 75
    Tim I says:

    The Red Cross is not a good place to send money. They are under investigation for grossly misusing the Hurricane Sandy money they collected.

    They hired on of the country’s priciest law firms to avoid saying how they spent the money. They claim that to reveal this information would betray the Red Cross’ “trade secrets”.

    It will be a very cold day in hell before they see another dime from me.

  76. 76
    James E. Powell says:

    This is one of those moments when I feel like the whole Democratic Party is missing the point and missing an opportunity to do the right thing and gain politically.

    First, this about feeding and housing children. How do you lose doing that? Bigots will bloviate, but the great mass of Americans understand and approve of feeding and housing children. Second, while Obama has to lead, the rest of the Democrats have to make a lot of loud noise – TV & radio, OpEds – you can’t expect one person to get the message across. And no blue dog style “distancing” or “yes but” or anything other than vocal support.

    The political benefit will be that normal everyday people will once again get the message that the Republicans have nothing to offer but cruelty.

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