Letter: Immigration not without consequences for Central American children

I take issue with the AP story “Few consequences for child immigrants” (Monday, June 22, 3A) and especially the headline that accompanies it in The Advocate. Children who leave their homes in Central American countries face enormous dangers that include assault, robbery, rape, the loss of a limb or other serious injury, extreme exposure to cold and/or heat, etc. — and that’s before they make it into the United States, where many then face long waits in prisonlike conditions while an overburdened immigration system tries to figure out what to do with them. Meanwhile, their family members in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala often face extortion threats from drug traffickers and the coyotes who prey on these children in their precarious journey north. What would local conditions have to be like for you to risk all your available resources to send your own son or daughter into such an uncertain future? Whether current legislation allows some of these children to avoid deportation back to the environments their parents so desperately hoped to shield them from, the consequences are many, and the survival stakes high for these children, for their parents and home communities, and for those of us on this side of the border. Rather than demonizing and criminalizing these children, most of whom did not make this decision on their own, we should be treating them with compassion. By supporting individual education through nonprofit organizations like puravida.org, we also can encourage these kids to stay in their home countries, where they will avoid the many serious and sometimes deadly consequences implicit in a run for the border.

Marilyn Miller

professor

New Orleans