NEW YORK, August 8 (RIA Novosti) - The United States government is failing to treat an influx of young Central American migrants humanely, the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, told RIA Novosti.
“It’s an issue of desperation – children and young families who really want to get away from violence, deprivation and the growing power of criminal drugs gangs in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador,” said Salguero, also the pastor of a New York City church.
“We should not be shouting ‘go home’ to these children. We should find out what is driving them here and respond in a humane way. They should be afforded due process and have full legal access to apply for asylum or refugee status.”
Since October 2013, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, have been caught crossing the US-Mexican border illegally. They are cared for by the government or US-based relatives until an immigration hearing.
Salguero’s religious group is setting up shelters for youth migrants in New York and four other American states – offering food, security and education while helping their young residents make contact with family members in the US.
Civil rights groups have complained about immigration courts speeding up deportation hearings on children in so-called “rocket docket” fast-tracked legal processes.
President Barack Obama has asked Congress to approve an emergency $3.7 billion bill to deal with an influx of young migrants that has strained resources at the border, in immigration courts and government-run detention centers.
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