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Public opinion remains deeply divided over whether the U.S. government has a moral obligation to offer asylum to Central Americans children escaping political persecution or violence in their home countries. According to a survey published last month by theAssociated Press, 53 percent of the U.S. public think their country has no obligation to take in the latest wave of “tired and huddled masses” fleeing troubles in their home countries.

We talked to 11 scholars and activists who think the United States, a self-professed nation of immigrants, does have a moral obligation to provide asylum to Central American minors, many of whom — experts argue — are fleeing violence that resulted from U.S. foreign policy.

Fusion presents the untold history behind the unaccompanied minors, a collection of 60-second videos.


Former Labor Secretary

“We are directly responsible for what’s going on”

Illegal narcotics have been smuggled through Central America for decades, but the violence of the drug war has metastasized aggressively throughout the region in recent years. According to the United Nations, the United States and Mexico’s war on the cartels has “pushed the front lines of drug trafficking towards the south” and turned Central American countries such as Guatemala into a “bottleneck” for 90 percent of the cocaine smuggled north.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand this stuff; as you push more and more of the violence into Central America … a lot of the kids and the teenagers face this diabolical choice: join the gangs, get killed, or flee. Many of them choose to flee to the United States,” former Labor Secretary Robert Reich told Fusion.

In 2009, only 3,304 “unaccompanied alien children” from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were “encountered” at the U.S. border, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. By June of this year, that number had jumped to 43,933, according to government data. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson predicts as many as 90,000 unaccompanied minors could be apprehended before the end of fiscal year, on September 30.

Reich says that by pinching the drug cartels out of Mexico and Colombia and into northern Central America, the United States may be implicated in the rise of unaccompanied minors fleeing Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
“Just connect the dots,” Reich said. “We are directly responsible for what’s going on.”


Immigration Law Professor, University of San Francisco

“The vast majority of these children would not qualify to apply [for legal status] under any existing immigration visa category.

Protesters at anti-immigration demonstrations around the country insist they’re not racist and that they just want the unaccompanied minors to enter to the U.S. legally. But most kids don’t qualify to apply for visas under any existing U.S. immigration category says Bill Ong Hing, who teaches immigration law at the University of San Francisco.

Hing says he’s concerned about legislation that would allow an expedited deportation of unaccompanied children without a proper immigration hearing. Nearly 50 percent of children with legal representation are granted legal status in the United States, as opposed to one out of 10 without a lawyer, according to the Transnational Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Former gang member and co-founder of Homies Unidos

“Gangs are not the only reason why children are fleeing”

A common narrative among many of the children fleeing the northern triangle of Central America involves gangs terrorizing people through extortion, forced recruitment and drug-turf wars. Absent from the conversation is analysis on how and why those gangs flourished in Central America in the first place, and the economic conditions that allowed them to thrive. “When I hear people blaming gangs for the reason why kids are fleeing Central America they miss the real reason why these children are leaving,” explains Alex Sanchez, a former Salvadoran gang member and a founding member of the Los Angeles-based gang-prevention group Homies Unidos.

“These countries have economic issues, poverty, corruption and El Salvador even has an ex-president that’s on the run right now,” Sanchez said, referring to former Salvadoran President Francisco Flores, who iswanted on embezzlement and corruption charges for allegedly embezzling $5.3 million while he was president and mismanaging $10 million that was donated by Taiwan’s government during his presidency.

“All of this is a result of a corrupt society and the children are the victims in this tragedy,” Sanchez said.


Executive director of the indigenous community group Maya Vision

“Maya children face three additional language barriers”

A sizable contingent of indigenous Maya children are among the tens of thousands of Guatemalan minors fleeing to the United States. Once they arrive, they face additional barriers because many Maya speak little or no Spanish.

Policarpo Chaj was born in the central highlands of Guatemala and today serves as the executive director of Maya Vision, an indigenous community group in Los Angeles. His organization helps federal agencies in the U.S. with translation services for some of the 22 Maya languages spoken in Guatemala. Chaj says in his decade working as a translator for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) he’s never seen so many young Mayas fleeing to the United States.

Multiple requests to ICE for more details and data on the number of Maya children detained here went unanswered.

K’iche’, a Maya language spoken by the K’iche’ people in Guatemala, became the 25th most used language in immigration courts last year.


President, Community Coalition

“It feels like the country hasn’t moved since the early 1940s and 50s”

Marqueece Harris-Dawson leads a community organization in South Los Angeles. He says the recent protesters in Murrieta, Californiaagainst the arrival of unaccompanied children in the region reminded him “of another piece of my history as an African American.”


Honduras History Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz

“What’s missing [from the conversation] is the responsibility of the really dangerous Honduran government”

Most of the unaccompanied children arriving in the United States are coming from Honduras, which has the dubious distinction of being one of the most violent countries in the world.

In Honduras anyone can kill anybody with total impunity, says Dana Frank, a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz.


Artivist, Las Cafeteras

“In the time of the great divide, my people were left behind”

Héctor Flores is an activist and vocalist in the Los Angeles-based band “Las Cafeteras.” He expressed his thoughts on unaccompanied children coming to the U.S. in a lyrical spoken word piece.

Communications Strategist, Families for Freedom

“The way that Central Americans are painted in the media is very harmful”

Mónica Novoa’s family left El Salvador when she was just three years old in 1982. Her family was fleeing a military crackdown that targeted teachers and other intellectuals during the civil war.

She remembers the way people fleeing the Salvadoran civil war were portrayed in the media when she was growing up. Novoa, who is currently a communications strategist for Families for Freedom in New York, says the press should consider how children feel when watching news reports covering unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S.


Psychotherapist, Clínica Martín-Baró, UCSF/SFSU

“A crime against humanity”

Felix Kury is a psychotherapist who practices at Clínica Martín-Baró in San Francisco. He worries about the psychological effects of sending children back to the environments they fled.


Sociologist, University of California, Los Angeles

“The Central American Free Trade Agreement has been disastrous for the region”

Leisy J. Abrego is a sociologist working at the University of California, Los Angeles. She’s interviewed more than 100 Central American youths for her book “Sacrificing Families,” which explores the experiences of Salvadoran parents in the United States and their children back home.

Abrego maintains that U.S. foreign policy is to blame for the conditions that Central American kids are facing back home.

“The Central American Free Trade Agreement has been disastrous for the region. Instead of reducing inequality, they’ve exacerbated [it] and made it impossible for people to remain there and actually survive,” Abrego said.

“One of the results of that inequality is that people have to find way to survive,” she added; “and when they don’t find it there they have to leave.”


Mother and son who fled Honduras in June, 2014

“They killed one of my neighbors … the killers had confused him for my brother”

Sarahi Dormes fled Honduras with her 7-year-old son last June. She says her brother was killed by gang members two years ago; the rest of her family fled when the gang returned to kill her second brother in retaliation for refusing to join them.

Though her family managed to escape the immediate threat of violence in her home country, her family has been separated in the United States. She says the future is unclear.

The untold history of unaccompanied minors

Public opinion remains deeply divided over whether the U.S. government has a moral obligation to o...

Nel documento su ricollocamenti e reinsediamenti della Commissione dell'UE si legge "I picchi negli arrivi degli ultimi mesi" in Italia "hanno dimostrato che l'attuale capacità di 1600 posti nei quattro hotspot operativi (Pozzallo, Lampedusa, Trapani e Taranto) non è sufficiente. L'Italia dovrebbe accelerare l'apertura degli hotspot aggiuntivi già annunciati"

"Laddove possibile - si legge nel documento - strutture di ricezione adeguate dovrebbero essere previste con urgenza anche in quei porti che non diventeranno a pieno titolo hotspot".

Il documento continua affermando che "dato l'elevato numero di minori non accompagnati che sbarcano in Italia, aree dedicate, così come un'assistenza particolare dovrebbero essere offerte in tutti gli hotspot ed il trasferimento alle strutture di accoglienza di prima e seconda linea dovrebbero essere completate nel più breve termine possibile".
Questa affermazione è quanto di più preoccupante si è sentito negli ultimi mesi. Di fatto apre alla "legalizzazione" del trattenimento dei minori stranieri non accompagnati negli Hotspot, mentre con la dicitura "il trasferimento alle strutture di accoglienza di prima e seconda linea dovrebbero essere completate nel più breve termine possibile" senza specificare un termine massimo preciso dichiara indirettamente che gli Hotspot saranno usati come dei parcheggi illegali di migranti, in spregio ai principi della Costituzione e della Convenzione dei diritti del Fanciullo.

Inoltre, "anche se non c'è un termine legale limite, la regola dovrebbe essere che i migranti siano trattati nel più breve tempo possibile e entro un massimo di 72 ore". Questa è una raccomandazione, già nota, che ad oggi non è mai stata rispettata.

Al momento nessuno dei minore non accompagnati sbarcati in Italia sono stati ricollocati verso altri Paesi. La procedura della relocation è prioritaria poiché i circa 3000 minori non accompagnati, per la maggior parte Eritrei, sono potenzialmente candidabili ai trasferimenti.

I Minori Stranieri non Accompagnati

L'Ue chiede all'Italia di accelerare sull'apertura di nuovi hotspot

Nel documento su ricollocamenti e reinsediamenti della Commissione dell'UE si l...
Italia Lavoro ha pubblicato l'Avviso per il finanziamento di percorsi di integrazione socio-lavorativa per minori non accompagnati e giovani migranti, finanziato dal Fondo Politiche Migratorie - Anno 2015 per un importo pari a € 4.800.000. L'obiettivo dell'intervento è la realizzazione di percorsi integrati di inserimento socio-lavorativo rivolti a minori non accompagnati, ai titolari e richiedenti protezione internazionale e a giovani migranti entrati in Italia come minori non accompagnati. I percorsi di inserimento socio-lavorativo si basano sullo strumento della "dote individuale", con la quale - insieme ad una dotazione monetaria - viene garantita l'erogazione di una serie di servizi di supporto alla valorizzazione e sviluppo delle competenze, all'inserimento socio-lavorativo e all'accompagnamento verso l'autonomia (formazione on the job, tirocinio), attraverso la costruzione di piani di intervento personalizzati. L'ambito territoriale di riferimento dell'intervento è quello nazionale.


- Minori non accompagnati in fase di transizione verso l’età adulta, che al momento dell’avvio del tirocinio abbiano compiuto il 16esimo anno d’età e che siano in condizione d’inoccupazione o disoccupazione;

- Giovani migranti, entrati come minori non accompagnati, che non abbiano compiuto 23 anni d’età alla data di avvio del tirocinio, compresi i richiedenti e i titolari di protezione umanitaria o internazionale, in condizione d’inoccupazione o disoccupazione.

Beneficiari (soggetti proponenti)

- Soggetti autorizzati allo svolgimento di attività di intermediazione a livello nazionale ai sensi del D.lgs. n. 276/2003 Titolo II – Capo I e s.m.i

- soggetti pubblici e privati accreditati dalle Regioni all’erogazione dei servizi per l’impiego e del lavoro.

Si rinvia, inoltre, all’elenco dei soggetti proponenti previsto nell’ambito delle discipline regionali di recepimento delle “Linee guida in materia di tirocini” approvate dalla Conferenza Stato – Regioni e Province autonome in data 24 gennaio 2013.

Articolazione e valore della dote

I destinatari saranno inseriti in percorsi integrati di inserimento socio-lavorativo di durata complessivamente non superiore a 8 mesi, che prevedano un periodo di tirocinio di durata pari a 5 mesi.

Ciascun percorso ha alla base una “dote individuale”, del valore massimo di € 5.000, per la quale è previsto il riconoscimento di:

-un contributo al beneficiario/soggetto proponente pari a € 2.000 per lo svolgimento di attività per favorire l’inserimento socio-lavorativo del destinatario;

-una indennità di frequenza al destinatario pari a € 2.500 (€ 500 al mese) per la partecipazione al tirocinio previsto nel percorso di integrazione socio-lavorativa;

-un contributo al soggetto ospitante il tirocinio pari a € 500 per lo svolgimento dell’attività di tutoraggio e affiancamento durante l’esperienza di tirocinio.

I percorsi integrati di inserimento socio-lavorativo devono essere strutturati dal beneficiario/soggetto proponente sulla base delle tre Aree di servizio previste e delle specifiche tipologie di attività ammissibili a finanziamento.

Fondi disponibili

L’iniziativa è finanziata dal Fondo Politiche Migratorie – Anno 2015 (D.D. del 29 dicembre 2015) per un importo pari a € 4.800.000.

Modalità di presentazione delle domande di partecipazione

A pena di esclusione, le domande di partecipazione dovranno essere inviate a Italia Lavoro a mezzo Posta Elettronica Certificata all’indirizzo, indicando obbligatoriamente nell’oggetto “Progetto PERCORSI”, a partire dal quindicesimo giorno successivo alla data di pubblicazione sul sito di Italia Lavoro del presente Avviso e non oltre le ore 13.00 del 31/12/2016.

Richieste di informazioni e chiarimenti possono essere inoltrate esclusivamente all’indirizzo email .

L’Avviso e tutta la relativa documentazione sono disponibili sulla pagina dedicata del sito di Italia lavoro.

Si rimanda alla stessa pagina per le informazioni sugli incontri di presentazione dell’Avviso rivolti ai soggetti proponenti interessati.

Fonte: Italia lavoro

I Minori Stranieri non Accompagnati

Inserimento socio-lavorativo di minori non accompagnati e di giovani migranti

Italia Lavoro ha pubblicato l'Avviso per il finanziamento di p ercorsi di integrazione socio-l...

Minori non Accompagnati provenienti dal Sudan e l'Afghanistan si riflettono nel plexiglas montato a protezione dell' opere d'arte di Banksy nella Jungle di Calais.

Minori non Accompagnati nell'opera di Banksy

Minori non Accompagnati provenienti dal Sudan e l'Afghanistan si riflettono nel plexiglas mont...
A centre for young refugees in Saint-Omer offers shelter and protection, as well as the chance to enjoy being children again.

On a cloudy day in the northern French town of Saint-Omer, Ibrahim, from Darfur in Sudan, is tending to a crop of vegetables with eight other young teenagers.

Ranging from 14 to 17 years in age, they are among the lucky few who have been given a place at Saint-Omer’s Maison du Jeune Réfugié (‘house for young refugees’), run by the NGO France Terre d’Asile.

Forty-five children live at the centre, one of the few places that provide accommodation and protection for unaccompanied children who had been living in the makeshift camp known as ‘the jungle’ near Calais, 45 kilometres away. Here, they find shelter and protection, and can enjoy being children again – unlike in the jungle, where children sleep outside in makeshift shelters and are at risk of violence and abuse. Many have already faced danger while transiting along insecure routes through several countries in Europe.

Gardening is one of the leisure activities organized by the centre and is popular with residents. The children plant, tend and harvest lettuces, courgettes, thyme, tomatoes, basil and rhubarb.

Germaine Tetou, a social worker in Saint-Omer, is teaching them the French names for the vegetables and gardening tools. They repeat them, joking and laughing at one another’s pronunciation.

Tetou, who herself came to France as a refugee from Benin, says the children learned quickly. “Every day I am grateful to have this job,” she says. “I understand what they have to go through.” Gardening reminds Ibrahim*, who is 14, of his grandmother’s farm in Darfur. “I like everything here in Saint-Omer, but especially gardening,” he says.

He has been in France for 42 days, including the 15 he spent in ‘the jungle’, where he slept in a makeshift shelter with other teenagers who had fled Darfur, like him, without their parents.

“France has an obligation to protect unaccompanied minors living in the so-called jungle in Calais,” says Ralf Gruenert, the representative in France for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

“And that means first and foremost to find appropriate housing solutions and provide them with legal, social and health care, but also to establish a workable and speedy system for family reunification for unaccompanied minors who have families in other European countries, including the United Kingdom, where such a move is in their best interests.”

Activities at the centre include French classes, maths, music, arts, sports, cinema and gardening. There is also a library.

Manal*, 16, from Sudan, looks at photos of castles in the south of France after lunch. “It’s beautiful, where is it?” he asks. He wants to find the location on a map to see if it is possible to visit them.

In the afternoon, some of the residents will head to the cinema, where ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Star Trek Beyond’ are their top choices. Afterwards they plan to play football in the park.

They feel safe at the centre, where they are able to dream as children do once more.

Jamal*, 17, from Ghazni in Afghanistan, also lives at the Saint-Omer centre. He arrived in Calais alone after he fled home.

He says he feels comfortable in Saint-Omer and dreams of becoming an electronic engineer. “There is no fighting here like in the jungle. I like everything here but my favourite activity is learning French.”

Accommodation centres and places for children are limited. Most of the unaccompanied children living in Calais do not have the same opportunities as Jamal and Ibrahim.

“Every day we receive requests to receive more children, but we are obliged to refuse as the centre is permanently full,” says the director, Jean-Francois Roger. “More places have to be created. Minors need to be in a safe environment.”

According to NGOs, about 850 unaccompanied children live in the Calais ‘jungle.’

As an emergency measure, 215 minors are accommodated in a temporary reception camp (Le Centre d’Accueil Provisoire, known by the French acronym CAP) and the Jules Ferry centre for women and children, which are run by the organization La Vie Active. Both are full and cannot accommodate more. The other children live in tents and makeshift shelters in the ‘jungle.’

So far this year, of the 300,000 refugees and migrants who have reached Europe, 28 per cent are children and many are travelling alone. In Italy, 15 per cent of the arrivals since the beginning of the year are unaccompanied children.

In 2015, children comprised more than half the global refugee population of 21.3 million, with the number of unaccompanied and separated children on the move also growing dramatically.

Nearly 100,000 asylum applications were made by unaccompanied and separated children in 78 countries in 2015 alone. This was the highest number on record since UNHCR started collecting such data in 2006.

Tensions in Calais have risen over the past few weeks, with French demonstrators blocking access to the Channel Tunnel and the Calais ferry to support calls for the closure of the ‘jungle.’

No matter what, as winter approaches, suitable accommodation for unaccompanied children like Jamal, Ibrahim and Manal is urgently needed.

*Names have been changed for protection 

Céline Schmitt 

Unaccompanied minors in Calais cultivate a world away from home

A centre for young refugees in Saint-Omer offers shelter and protection, as well as the chance to ...
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