Central American parents and children who are in the United States after fleeing the violence in their home countries went to Congress Wednesday to ask for “laws that protect them” and the legal protection needed to be able to apply for asylum here.
Half a dozen children, some of them accompanied by their parents, traveled from Chicago to Washington to tell their stories and ask the U.S. justice system to deem them refugees.
Democratic Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez said that the violence in Central America is continuing and migrants are going to continue coming to this country.
U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Lucille Roybal-Allard said that the people are not undocumented immigrants but rather refugees and called for President Barack Obama to stop deportation raids of Central American children and their families.
One of those children is Raul Ortiz, who arrived here a year ago from Honduras fleeing organized criminal groups, and he begged Obama to stop deportations because he does not want to be sent back where “they were killing people with pistols and knives and I was afraid.”
His mother, Evelyn Diaz, said that she came to the United States to get away from Honduran gangs, telling reporters that families like hers are not migrating to the United States to “be a burden,” but rather are seeking “protection,” and they are ready “to work hard to earn our daily bread.”
The congressmen said that, according to their data, 86 percent of the undocumented families that have been identified by immigration and customs authorities for deportation do not have any legal counsel.
“Deporting Central American women and children who may have valid asylum claims but are unable to navigate the complexities of our legal system on their own is contrary to our American beliefs of fairness and justice,” Roybal-Allard said.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will travel to Honduras and El Salvador to evaluate the reintegration process for the undocumented migrants deported from U.S. soil, as well as to analyze the causes of illegal immigration from Central America.
It is feared that, given the recent increase in violence in those countries, this summer another crisis like the one in summer 2014 will occur, when a wave of undocumented Central American children arrived on the southern U.S. border.