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Thu June 12, 2014
Rodriguez: Border Needs Help, Not Militarization
State Sen. José Rodríguez issued the following statement regarding the calls by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and others who call for more law enforcement in response to a humanitarian crisis spurred by violence in Central America:
What we are dealing with is an influx of children fleeing from Central American violence; imagine a situation so dire that you allow your children to travel a dangerous journey -- thousands of miles -- to a foreign land.
What is needed are not more "boots on the ground" or any other euphemisms for the militarization that both impacts border residents' daily lives and is inadequate to deal with the specific issue at hand. We need, above all, a humane way of detaining the children. We need legal services for the children as they navigate what the San Antonio Express-News correctly called a "byzantine" process for filing and pursuing asylum and humanitarian claims. In addition, we need more translators for Spanish as well as for indigenous languages.
Unaccompanied minors are fleeing violence and cartels in their home countries. Sending them back is essentially giving them a death sentence in many cases.
Finally, while there has been a surge in activity at specific points along the Texas border, it's worth noting that even with the recent increase, the Congressional Research Service reported that the overall number of migrants crossing the southern border of the U.S. without proper documents dropped 75 percent from 2000 to 2013.
As I have said many times, the border is a region with many facets. Primarily, it represents opportunity for the U.S., given our rich culture and economic activity. We must address the humanitarian crisis taking place and act thoughtfully, keeping the best interests of the children in mind -- not by building barriers and leaving fleeing children stranded on one side of a wall.