FACT-FINDING MISSIONS TO CENTRAL AMERICA DISCOVERTHOUSANDS OF CHILDREN, EN ROUTE TO UNITED STATES, INTERCEPTED ANDDEPORTED FROM MEXICO
Third Delegation Currently in Guatemala Now.
CHICAGO — In light of the recent news that five young people were murdered shortly after being deported to Honduras, several of whom were returned by land from Mexico, and reports of children returning to dangerous circumstances across the region, the third of three U.S. delegations of immigrant leaders from across the nation traveled to Guatemala this weekend.
Two previous delegations, to Honduras and El Salvador, discovered large numbers of children being deported from Mexico, prior to reaching the United States. It is not clear if any of these children received any humanitarian protections.
The purpose of these delegations is to conduct a fact-finding mission and meet with high-level elected officials to both understand the situation and develop solutions to address the plight of the young people who are fleeing their countries of origin to the United States.
Organized by the National Alliance of Latin American & Caribbean Communities (NALACC) the delegations include immigrant leaders from across the nation including Chicago, Boston, New York, Miami, San Francisco, Oakland, Omaha, and Washington D.C. The first delegation traveled to Honduras the last week of August, and a second delegation just returned from El Salvador.
“Children in the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) are fleeing violence and insecurity in their home countries, problems with deep roots in structural patterns of inequality and social exclusion,” said Jose Luis Gutierrez, NALACC’s Director of Transnational Programs, and delegation coordinator.
NALACC and its members have been organizing actions of prayer, public education forums, rallies, and passing local resolutions across the country as a way to stand with the thousands of Central American unaccompanied children coming to our borders.
Sergio Sosa, Director of Heartland Workers Center, and an immigrant from Guatemala, called on the countries of the region to, “share responsibility for immediate humanitarian response to this human exodus.” He added that reports suggesting that many of the Guatemalan children seeking refuge in the United States are from already vulnerable indigenous communities make this all the more urgent.
The delegation to Guatemala will shine a light on the extremely precarious conditions in indigenous communities, which have suffered persecution and violence for decades. The delegation will meet with indigenous leaders to understand the specific needs of these communities who suffer the dual burden of racial and cultural discrimination.
“It is shameful,” noted Edgar Ayala, a Guatemalan immigrant and small business owner in Oakland, California, “that emigration, even under the current dangerous conditions, looks like a better option for our people than remaining in Guatemala.”
The delegations will coordinate with civil society and faith-based organizations in the region, calling on the countries in the region to work together with each other and the United States to address the profound structural problems that underpin the current crisis. “Violence and insecurity are severe and urgent problems,” commented Gutierrez, “but they essentially lit the fuse under an already volatile powder keg of problems. If we do not address those underlying problems, we should expect a repeat of this crisis in the near future,” he added.
The delegations will report back on their findings in Washington, DC at a press conference at the National Press Club on September 16, 2014.
PARTICIPANTS IN DELEGATIONS:
Guatemala (September 7-10):
- Edgar Ayala, Bay Area Guatemalan Association, Oakland, CA
- Claudia Carias, Movimiento de Inmigrantes Guatemaltecos en los
- Estados Unidos, NY
- Sylvia Castellanos – Coalition for the Dignity and Rights of
- Immigrants, Cincinnati, OH
- Jose Luis Gutierrez, NALACC Transnational Director
- Sergio Sosa, Heartland Workers Center, Omaha, NE
Previous Delegation to Honduras (August 25-30):
- Mirtha Colón, Hondurans Against AIDS & Black Central American Organization, Bronx, NY
- Jose Luis Gutierrez, NALACC Transnational Director, Chicago
- Patricia Montes, Centro Presente, Boston, MA
- Clelia Sabio, Organización Comunitaria para el Desarrollo de la Mujer Afro, Bronx, NY
- Isabel Vinent, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Miami, FL
Previous Delegation to El Salvador (Sept 1-5):
- Oscar Chacón, NALACC Executive Director
- Lariza Dugan-Cuadra, Central American Resource Center of Northern California, San Francisco, CA (also part of Honduras Delegation)
- Abel Nuñez, Central American Resource Center, Washington, DC
- Teodoro Aguiluz, Central American Resource Center (CRECEN), Houston, TX
NALACC is a network of community-based; Latino and Caribbean immigrant-led organizations in the US that seeks to raise the quality of life for immigrant communities in the United States, as well as communities in migrant-sending countries in Latin America. Over the years, NALACC has built close working relationships with key civil society organizations throughout Latin America.