There was a cleaning out of the military and other structures of government that never happened in … Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Nicaragua-based journalist Judy Butler, in an excellent piece by Jill Replogle for San Diego public television explaining why Nicaragua is not suffering from the sort of violence that is expelling thousands of children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. (Nicaragua’s homicide rate is one-eighth that of Honduras.)
Every official U.S. government document on national security strategy. I realized a couple of years ago that these documents are for chumps. Dirty little Pentagon secret: No one who runs the country reads them. Mid-level bureaucrats write these for each other to cite.

The House Republicans' proposed border funding bill

This will be debated and voted tomorrow, before Congress leaves town for a six-week recess.

What a nasty piece of legislation.

  • It adds $35 million to deploy the National Guard at the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • It gives $197 million for refugee assistance to care for unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border. This is a small fraction of the $1.8 billion that the White House had requested. All $197 million would be paid for with a cut from U.S. economic aid to foreign countries.
  • It only provides $40 million in assistance to Central America (the White House requested $295 million), all of it for resettlement of deportees. Nothing for violence reduction. Still, it guts human rights conditions in current law that hold up some military aid to Guatemala and Honduras.
  • It amends the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection law in a way that would enormously speed up the deportation of threatened children. It would be up to Border Patrol agents, not immigration judges, to decide—within seven days, with no counsel representing the child—whether a child faces a credible threat of violence if deported. Thousands could end up sent back to their threatening situation.
The UN Development Program takes indicators like life expectancy, education, and income and turns it into a “Human Development Index.”

In a 2011 report, UNDP assigned “violence and income concentration-adjusted” human development indices to most of Colombia’s departments (provinces - see the table on page 411 of this PDF).

Each department is labeled with the name of one of the countries whose current Human Development Index it most closely resembles.

The disparities are broad, ranging from the Czech Republic (Bogotá) to Botswana (Chocó).

The UN Development Program takes indicators like life expectancy, education, and income and turns it into a “Human Development Index.”

In a 2011 report, UNDP assigned “violence and income concentration-adjusted” human development indices to most of Colombia’s departments (provinces - see the table on page 411 of this PDF).

Each department is labeled with the name of one of the countries whose current Human Development Index it most closely resembles.

The disparities are broad, ranging from the Czech Republic (Bogotá) to Botswana (Chocó).

ICYMI

I’ve written five pieces over the past 2 weeks. Three of them were first-drafted on flights back from Bogotá a week ago Thursday.

I don’t know why all but one have titles ending in a question mark. Got to work on that.

Are unaccompanied minors fleeing violence, or just poverty, in Central America?

Over at “Border Fact Check,” my Intern Lesley Wellener slaps back claims, from people like Rep. Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico), that most Central American children aren’t threatened, but are instead coming here for economic reasons.

Over at “Border Fact Check,” I try to remind people that Central America’s criminal gangs are not the ones moving tons of cocaine to the United States. Those who recommend increasing military aid for drug interdiction won’t be having much effect on the violence causing the current wave of Central American migration.

Over at “Border Fact Check,” I try to remind people that Central America’s criminal gangs are not the ones moving tons of cocaine to the United States. Those who recommend increasing military aid for drug interdiction won’t be having much effect on the violence causing the current wave of Central American migration.

If the FARC and Colombian government reach an accord, the international community will have a large role to play. In perhaps a year, donor countries, UN agencies, and multilateral bodies will be compelled to shift gears, increasing and reorienting their aid packages. Are they ready to do that? Is the Colombian government helping them to prepare? What will the most urgent needs be?
In a memo at wola.org, I report back on my 3-day visit to Bogotá last week. I sought to get a sense of how prepared the international community is to assist an increasingly likely “post-conflict Colombia.” The troubling answer I got back is, “not very.”

On Wall Street Journal Live, talking about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s poor decision to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the Mexico border.

There are already enough Border Patrol resources at the U.S.-Mexico border. Congress does not need to add more: Customs and Border Protection needs to distribute them to respond to the current situation. We absolutely do not need to take the drastic step of a new National Guard deployment.
From today’s New York Times:


  “I will never do it again,” said Victoria Cordova, 30, who was deported from the United States last week with her 9-year-old daughter. She recalled a harrowing journey that included overcrowded shelters in the United States with little to eat and a confusing stream of paperwork to sign, including a document in English that she did not understand but signed anyway.
  
  After signing the paper in a shelter in New Mexico, she said, she and several other women with children were told they would be boarding a plane back to Honduras, leading many of them to break down into tears.
  
  Ms. Cordova has since returned to her home in a dangerous neighborhood in Tegucigalpa. She worries most now about repaying the $6,000 cost for the trip that she borrowed from neighbors, including gang members expecting quick repayment, though she is unemployed.


As the Obama administration’s deportations to Central America intensify, get ready for hundreds more stories like these.

From today’s New York Times:

“I will never do it again,” said Victoria Cordova, 30, who was deported from the United States last week with her 9-year-old daughter. She recalled a harrowing journey that included overcrowded shelters in the United States with little to eat and a confusing stream of paperwork to sign, including a document in English that she did not understand but signed anyway.

After signing the paper in a shelter in New Mexico, she said, she and several other women with children were told they would be boarding a plane back to Honduras, leading many of them to break down into tears.

Ms. Cordova has since returned to her home in a dangerous neighborhood in Tegucigalpa. She worries most now about repaying the $6,000 cost for the trip that she borrowed from neighbors, including gang members expecting quick repayment, though she is unemployed.

As the Obama administration’s deportations to Central America intensify, get ready for hundreds more stories like these.

(Click to enlarge) The unaccompanied minors humanitarian crisis is remarkably concentrated in one part of the U.S.-Mexico border. While Border Patrol must process tens of thousands of children near Texas’s southernmost point, similar numbers of agents assigned to other sectors are facing the smallest migrant flow in 40 years.

We should question calls to increase Border Patrol still further, or even call in the National Guard, when so much capacity exists elsewhere along the border.

(Click to enlarge) The unaccompanied minors humanitarian crisis is remarkably concentrated in one part of the U.S.-Mexico border. While Border Patrol must process tens of thousands of children near Texas’s southernmost point, similar numbers of agents assigned to other sectors are facing the smallest migrant flow in 40 years.

We should question calls to increase Border Patrol still further, or even call in the National Guard, when so much capacity exists elsewhere along the border.

"It’s not like Juan Valdez is going to greet them at the airport with roses."

Great words yesterday from Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland). Starting about 3 hours and 20 minutes into this video of yesterday’s hearing about the Obama administration’s US$3.7 billion request for dealing with unaccompanied minors at the border.


  "When you’re talking to the children, you find out: why would a mother, making minimum wage, somewhere scrape together three thousand dollars—and you could imagine what it took to save that money—to send it to, essentially, a scoundrel, to bring her daugher or her son across the border? And to know the treacherous, dangerous journey that they’re going to do? If you will only risk that—the danger is so severe, we all heard these stories that are so wrenching, that we don’t even want to repeat some of them in public because of their poignancy.
  
  "The fact is that, it’s because in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador the violence is so bad, that the violence of the journey—the violence of the journey is less, and the risk that they will take.
  
  "And then to say, ‘We’re going to send them back!’ Send them back to what? The gang that tried to recruit a little girl and threatened the family that if the girls—two young girls—didn’t join the gang they would be killed, mutilated, or turned into something called ‘queens.’ I won’t even talk here about what that means. I could not bring myself to describe it. So what are we going to send them back to? It’s not like Juan Valdez is going to greet them at the airport with roses.
  
  "I mean, I think we have to get a real strategy here to know why they left. Now, I’ve said repeatedly, and I will say this again: that I have felt that over the last decade we have fought four wars. We fought one in Afghanistan because of an attack on us. We fought one in Iraq that we— members voted for, I did not. Then we fought the cyber-war, which continues to be a significant threat. And I don’t minimize the threat of terrorism.
  
  "Then I talked about the war at our border, but I was worried about drug dealers, I wasn’t worried about children. But the children are coming because of the drug dealers. So sure, we can talk about root causes and poverty, I don’t minimize that.
  
  "But we have to really, now, I think we’ve got to focus on our hemisphere. I believe we’ve had three decades of uneven policy, in terms of looking at our own hemisphere and Central America. Senator Harkin knows about it, Senator Shelby, we come from a background that heard about the nuns that were assaulted as Maryknoll nuns. The assassination of Oscar Romero. War after war, brutality after brutality, and then, just when we’re ready to deal with it, some other thing turns our head and we’re off, running, putting on flak jackets, visiting some new issue.
  
  "So I think we need to, in addition to all the other wars we have to fight or bring to a closure—and they’re significant, you know as Mr. Homeland Security, that there are a lot of threats to this country. But I believe that the threats of the children—the children are not threats. The children are coming because of the threat to the children.
  
  "And I think that we have to meet the urgent needs here, and we have to then really focus on our hemisphere, and have a focused way that deals with the crime, deals with the corruption, deals with exactly where a mother will risk sending her daughter on a perilous journey because it’s less violent than what she would find staying at home with her grandmother."

"It’s not like Juan Valdez is going to greet them at the airport with roses."

Great words yesterday from Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland). Starting about 3 hours and 20 minutes into this video of yesterday’s hearing about the Obama administration’s US$3.7 billion request for dealing with unaccompanied minors at the border.

"When you’re talking to the children, you find out: why would a mother, making minimum wage, somewhere scrape together three thousand dollars—and you could imagine what it took to save that money—to send it to, essentially, a scoundrel, to bring her daugher or her son across the border? And to know the treacherous, dangerous journey that they’re going to do? If you will only risk that—the danger is so severe, we all heard these stories that are so wrenching, that we don’t even want to repeat some of them in public because of their poignancy.

"The fact is that, it’s because in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador the violence is so bad, that the violence of the journey—the violence of the journey is less, and the risk that they will take.

"And then to say, ‘We’re going to send them back!’ Send them back to what? The gang that tried to recruit a little girl and threatened the family that if the girls—two young girls—didn’t join the gang they would be killed, mutilated, or turned into something called ‘queens.’ I won’t even talk here about what that means. I could not bring myself to describe it. So what are we going to send them back to? It’s not like Juan Valdez is going to greet them at the airport with roses.

"I mean, I think we have to get a real strategy here to know why they left. Now, I’ve said repeatedly, and I will say this again: that I have felt that over the last decade we have fought four wars. We fought one in Afghanistan because of an attack on us. We fought one in Iraq that we— members voted for, I did not. Then we fought the cyber-war, which continues to be a significant threat. And I don’t minimize the threat of terrorism.

"Then I talked about the war at our border, but I was worried about drug dealers, I wasn’t worried about children. But the children are coming because of the drug dealers. So sure, we can talk about root causes and poverty, I don’t minimize that.

"But we have to really, now, I think we’ve got to focus on our hemisphere. I believe we’ve had three decades of uneven policy, in terms of looking at our own hemisphere and Central America. Senator Harkin knows about it, Senator Shelby, we come from a background that heard about the nuns that were assaulted as Maryknoll nuns. The assassination of Oscar Romero. War after war, brutality after brutality, and then, just when we’re ready to deal with it, some other thing turns our head and we’re off, running, putting on flak jackets, visiting some new issue.

"So I think we need to, in addition to all the other wars we have to fight or bring to a closure—and they’re significant, you know as Mr. Homeland Security, that there are a lot of threats to this country. But I believe that the threats of the children—the children are not threats. The children are coming because of the threat to the children.

"And I think that we have to meet the urgent needs here, and we have to then really focus on our hemisphere, and have a focused way that deals with the crime, deals with the corruption, deals with exactly where a mother will risk sending her daughter on a perilous journey because it’s less violent than what she would find staying at home with her grandmother."

Here’s a new piece at WOLA’s “Border Fact Check.” In it, I take a deep dive into what I know about the causes of the unaccompanied children crisis at the border.

Are “failed U.S. policies” to blame for the rise in unaccompanied Central American migrant children?


“[T]he current surge is far more than a humanitarian crisis resulting from violence and economic failures in Central America. The perception of eventual legal status has been generated through your Administrative actions.”


— Letter to President Obama from 34 Republican members of Congress, July 2, 2014

The border between Texas and Mexico has seen a big recent increase in arrivals of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This July 2 letter, circulated by House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), seeks to blame the Obama administration for the crisis, citing “failed policies that encourage young individuals to put themselves in peril, leave their home countries, and make a long and dangerous journey to enter our country illegally.”

…

It’s unlikely that Central American families are paying such close attention to discussions of administrative changes within the U.S. executive branch. Even leaving this aside, there are at least four reasons why the House members’ letter’s claims are inaccurate.

Much more is at “Border Fact Check.”

Here’s a new piece at WOLA’s “Border Fact Check.” In it, I take a deep dive into what I know about the causes of the unaccompanied children crisis at the border.

Are “failed U.S. policies” to blame for the rise in unaccompanied Central American migrant children?

“[T]he current surge is far more than a humanitarian crisis resulting from violence and economic failures in Central America. The perception of eventual legal status has been generated through your Administrative actions.”

Letter to President Obama from 34 Republican members of Congress, July 2, 2014

The border between Texas and Mexico has seen a big recent increase in arrivals of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This July 2 letter, circulated by House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), seeks to blame the Obama administration for the crisis, citing “failed policies that encourage young individuals to put themselves in peril, leave their home countries, and make a long and dangerous journey to enter our country illegally.”

It’s unlikely that Central American families are paying such close attention to discussions of administrative changes within the U.S. executive branch. Even leaving this aside, there are at least four reasons why the House members’ letter’s claims are inaccurate.

Much more is at “Border Fact Check.”