Today my kids and I had a long conversation about why the San Diego Convention Center has 1000-1500 or so kids being held and processed there. Most of these kids are girls, up to age seventeen, brought in on buses, but has since expanded to younger children and siblings. (Learn more here.) The first question my own kids asked was, “Why are unaccompanied children coming to the border?”
I thought it was a good one, so here I am answering why these unaccompanied kids are coming here.
Have you seen that video that went viral of the three and five year old girls being dropped over the fourteen-feet border wall by coyotes? (Watch it here). Strangely, the BP Agent seems to think the problem is the smugglers. But that doesn’t address the real problem, as smugglers are just paid to do a job. Why would they be paid to do this job? This happens only when families desperately want to be reunited or are desperate to send their kids to safety.
We decided to look a little more into why this desperation exists that is bringing unaccompanied children to the border.
Why Did Migrants Start Coming North to the United States?
As we studied this together, a few facts stood out to us that were pretty horrific. One was that in a sample of migrant children, 60% fled to the United States because of gang threats or violence. And this isn’t just playground violence (like that time I bit a boy who wouldn’t stop tickling me and had to go to the principle’s office). No, we are talking about serious death/injury/rape/etc… Sixty-percent is a very high number! (Unfortunately, I closed the article before saving it among many others in my search history, so I can’t link to it here, but feel free to research it yourself!)
World Vision, an organization I am familiar with and trust was talking about various experiences that were common in the region of the Northern Triangle, where most of these kids come from. Did you know that many kids have to cross gang territory to go to school there? And these gangs are always fighting for new territories! That is so dangerous! Kids just often end up not going to school.
But you know what affected my kids most to learn? That, if they were born in Central America, they’d get a knock on their door and have to decide whether to be in a gang or die. I can’t even imagine them knowing how to handle that situation (I wouldn’t)!
In this region of the world, children are recruited into gangs when they enter their teens. They have 24 hours to decide on whether they accept or decline the invitation. If they don’t join, they are murdered (sometimes brutally). If they do join, they often live a life of violence they don’t want. Extortioner fees (families/businesses must pay a tax to the ruling gang) are also pretty common. If you don’t live by the gangs rules, murder is also pretty likely. Threats to your family are also likely. It is hard to know what percentage of the people this affects. Almost all? Half? Just a few hundred thousand? It is a small region, and I didn’t research this.
I’ve been reading American Dirt with my book club (a great novel I highly recommend) and it really gives you an understanding of what this “gang violence” and “threats” looks like. It is no joke. (In the story, it kills me when the church woman doesn’t want to help the mom and Luca, by not wanting them to ride with the missionaries! Makes me so sad, but I could so see that happening!)
Videos About Migrants and Why They Are Crossing the Border
Here are some movies that helped my kids and I understand this situation about unaccompanied minors crossing the border. These were the best descriptions we found that were short and that I felt comfortable showing my preteens. I hope they help you too!
This following video is a little longer and more about the history. Surprisingly, or predictably, this unfortunately has a lot to do with the U.S.’s government’s interventions, “fixes”, and starting coops, etc… It is always sad to remember that we have so much, as a nation, we’ve done poorly with our power.
I know this isn’t the happiest end to a blog post. But I wanted to answer this question about the kids at our border.
How Can We Help the Unaccompanied Children at the Border in San Diego?
If you need a next step, join me studying “In Pursuit of Peace” with Women of Welcome for four weeks. We will be in person in San Diego starting May 5th at 7pm, or online at 9am PST on a Tuesday or Friday. This helps us learn about being peacemakers in a world of injustice through a Biblical worldview (but all are welcome, regardless of creed!). Learn more by clicking the image below.
I am also looking into local volunteer opportunities to reach these kids via for Hope For SD and South Bay Community Services who are directly working with unaccompanied children from the border. They are also in need of temporary foster families (which is why these kids are in detention-like-centers, because there aren’t enough homes open to children).
Only 2050 Refugees in the USA 2021!
On a similar, but different note, the United States isn’t doing the greatest helping refugees in general this 2021 fiscal year. The kids coming through the border are in a different legal class, as amnesty-seekers. These unaccompanied minors are processed differently than refugees, who jump through the legal hoops far away, and then are moved to whatever country decides they are willing to take them. Although the new administration has promised to change this, we’ve actually done worse than before!
I made this short minute video to learn in a nutshell about this:
Can you spread the world? You can even share this video! (Or you can share the even shorter Reel version of this from IG to your stories)
It is Time to Sign Petitions to Bring in Refugees in 2021
Here are one of the many petitions out there you can sign. Please do sign one! The new presidential administration is asking the people what they think! (That is us!) The only reason this is getting a public announcement and decision made in the first place (as opposed to falling onto the back-burner) is because we’ve been advocating hard for more refugees to come. In mid-May that new decision will be made. Please help bring in people who really need a safe and legal home (and by “home” I mean country, as they currently have none).
Thank you for helping!
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