Border & Immigration
12:43 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Refugee Nonprofit Says Influx Of Minors Has "Nothing To Do With Immigration Reform"

U.S. Border Patrol agents parked near the fence.
U.S. Border Patrol agents parked near the fence.
Credit David Martin Davies / TPR News

The thousands of unaccompanied children from arriving at the Texas-Mexico border have become the latest pawns in the political battle over immigration reform, that’s according to the nonprofit Women’s Refugee Commission, who says this not a problem unique to United States.

Michelle Brané, director of the migrant rights and justice program with the Women’s Refugee Commission, said everyone on Capitol Hill and beyond are trying to politicize the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors that are coming to Texas from Central America.

“You know, there’s a lot of talk that this is about immigration reform," Brané said. "This has nothing to do with immigration reform”

Brané, who has studied the issue since 2003, said the recent surge of unaccompanied children is linked to the increasing level of violence happening in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

"It’s a refugee-like situation," Brané said. "People are fleeing  a situation in Central America, and so we can’t just deal with the problem here, we need to deal with this regionally. We need to look at what’s happening in those three countries, why is it happening just in those three countries.”

Brané said this influx of unaccompanied children is also happening in places other than the United States.

“The number of children applying for protections in Belize, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua has gone up by 417%,” Brané said.

Brané said those numbers really counter the argument that these children are coming to the U.S. to take advantage of our social programs.

The Women’s Refugee Commission took a deep look at the issue, publishing the study entitled Forced From Home: The Lost Boys and Girls of Central America. Brané is in Texas this week to speak with the children directly about their rights and to inspect the area where they are being housed.