Children Make Desperate 2,000 Mile Journey Seeking Safety:

Now They Face a New Terror—Homeland "Security" Police

Updated January 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


On December 23 the Obama administration announced that the Department of Homeland Security will launch a wave of armed raids on hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of homes around the U.S., beginning this January. The Washington Post reported, “The adults and children would be detained wherever they can be found and immediately deported.”

The targets of these assaults will be the parents and their children who in 2014 fled for their lives from hellish violence, as well as extreme poverty, in their home countries in Central America—from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala—many after a son, a brother or a daughter had already been raped, murdered, kidnapped, tortured or disappeared by armed gangs and/or the police.

The violence was so terrifying that some did not even dare go home to collect their ID or family photos. They ran with their children, a little money, the clothes on their backs. Many who could not flee themselves sent their adolescent children on their own. They braved the 2,000 mile journey through Mexico, where thousands would be raped or robbed by gangs or police, and hundreds would die in a journey that could take weeks or months. They rode atop freight trains, they walked through jungle and desert, they lived with fear every minute of every day.

When they finally got to the Rio Grande River, the border between the U.S. and Mexico, they thought they had reached safe haven. In the thousands they sought out and turned themselves in to the U.S. Border Patrol, and asked for asylum. You could see the relief in their faces as they were taken into custody, expecting a fair hearing of their obviously legitimate claims for refugee status.

Who are these people? In a piece in the NY Times, Sonia Nazario described one family:

“In a migrant shelter in Ixtepec, Mexico, I met July Elizabeth Pérez, 32, who was clutching her 3-year-old daughter, Kimberly Julieth Medina, tight in her arms, and keeping a careful eye on her two other children, 6-year-old-Luis Danny Pérez and 12-year-old Naamá Pérez. She arrived at this shelter after fleeing San Pedro Sula, a city where she grew up and worked as a waitress but that is now the deadliest town in Honduras, a country with one of the highest homicide rates in the world. She was aiming to reach the United States, where her mother and grandmother live legally in Florida—3,000 miles away.”

The stepped up, U.S. backed repression against refugees traveling through Mexico has given a green light to criminals and police to prey on them. Tens of thousands of refugees from Central America have been kidnapped for ransom while attempting to reach the U.S. border. Survivors tell of being enslaved working in marijuana fields or forced into prostitution.

But in these tens of thousands of mostly women and young children, the rulers of the U.S. did not see desperate human beings—human beings who were in fact fleeing a social meltdown. No, they saw the possibility of a flood of desperate people—driven in one way or another by the workings of capitalism-imperialism to try to make it to the U.S. And so they moved decisively to seal off the escape routes from the searing fire in Central America that they themselves had ignited. During the 1980s, the U.S. directly and through its flunky governments waged and led genocidal campaigns in several Central American countries to crush rebellions influenced by its imperialist rival, the Soviet Union. Their economies have been devastated by the “free trade agreement” imposed a decade ago, and gangs have filled the economic void, creating countries with vast areas run by gangs and police under their influence.

Those refugees—including children—who somehow made it to the U.S. border were hustled off to detention camps that were so inhumane they became an international scandal, and kept there for months, even when there were family members or communities already established in the U.S. that were offering to take them in. They were run through a “legal process” of asylum hearings that were outrageously rigged against them. Some mothers who had crossed with their children were forced to wear electronic bracelets to track their movements and ensure they reported for immigration hearings. Some youth did not even have lawyers to represent them in these complex hearings, and standards for proving “well-founded fear of persecution” were impossibly high. Of the 6,100 adults with children processed as of November 24, 2015, nearly 80% were denied asylum. Of the almost 20,000 unaccompanied children, almost half were denied asylum.

Now those people will face a new terror—“Homeland Security” police. Their homes will be surveilled. Then will come the knock at the door, the armed men pouring in, the shouting, the glaring lights, the children and parents taken away in handcuffs, put on planes, and sent back to the very places from which they fled for their lives. Of the people deported back to Central America since the beginning of 2014, at least 83 have been murdered, according to a UK Guardian study.

Reports of these planned raids follow a whole program where the U.S. has pushed its “partner,” the Mexican government, to unleash a reign of terror against Central American immigrants as they attempt to enter, or travel through, Mexico. The U.S. gave Mexico over $80 million to launch the Southern Border Plan (Plan Frontera Sur). Mexican police have been sent to patrol its southern border with Guatemala. In 2014 over 20,000 raids were carried out in bus stations, hotels, highways, and hotels, hunting “suspected” refugees. Barriers and other structures were built to prevent people from getting on trains, and to knock them off if they somehow made it to the top of the trains. Some police fired tasers at people on the tops of the trains.

The effect of this has been to make an already dangerous journey into a terrifying horror. Forced off the trains, young children, or parents carrying toddlers, must now walk through difficult and dangerous terrain. And forced away from the historic migration routes—which are dotted with way stations set up by religious and charitable groups—people must now travel in more isolated areas where they are much more vulnerable both to nature and to criminal attacks.

The injustice of deportation and the U.S.-imposed horror of the journey are both done with a point—to spread the word among people in Central America that no matter how horrible their situation is, it is just not worth it to try and come to the U.S., and if you somehow succeed, you will likely be deported anyway. The Wall Street Journal reported, “the operation aims to send the message to would-be crossers that they won’t be allowed to remain in the U.S.”

This is how the self-proclaimed great defender of human rights “solves the refugee crisis”! Donald Trump—he of the fascist lies about and threats to immigrants—took credit for prompting Obama’s move. This is, without exaggeration, like some monster forcing people back into a burning building. And in this case, it is the same monster—U.S. imperialism—that set the building on fire.

Yet people continue to come, because when parents see their children’s very lives in danger there is no measure they will not take, and no risk too great, to try and protect them. These refugees have had to face all the dark forces that can be mustered by the U.S. empire to stop them.

Everyone of any nationality and in whatever situation should stand with them. It is time and past time for growing numbers of people in this country to defend and welcome these refugees, to fiercely condemn, oppose and resist the criminal barbarity of forcing children to their deaths, and to do all this as part of preparing to get rid of this monstrous system that can only heap more and more suffering on people here and around the world.


Bob Avakian, "Why do people come here from all over the world?"

Clip from "Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian" given in 2003. Learn more about Bob Avakian here

Above: Immigrant children, who were stopped while trying to cross the border, seen here sleeping on the floor of a holding cell in Brownsville, Texas, June 2014. Photo: AP

The Department of Homeland Security carried out its first wave of armed raids on the homes of refugees from Central America over the New Year’s weekend, taking 121 women and children in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas into custody. Those picked up were transported to detention centers near the border, where they are being processed before being forced to return to the violence and danger in the countries they fled. What these immigration agents are doing is completely illegal. Lacking arrest warrants, armed agents barged into immigrant homes after lying about why they were there and threatening those inside with arrest if they didn’t open up. Once inside, anyone who couldn’t show an identification card was hauled away.

One family described hearing their doorbell ring at 4:30 am; followed by searchlights looking in every window; then armed agents lying in wait for hours. When someone finally left the house he was stopped. The agents had no legal right to enter the house without a warrant, so they lied and told him they wanted to search the house for a man wanted by the law. The immigrant still refused to let them in, so he was threatened that “non-collaboration with the police department could lead to your arrest.” When he finally gave in, the agents rushed inside the house, demanded to see everyone’s identification card, and took away a mother and two children from El Salvador.

Between July 18, 2014, and Nov. 24, 2015, U.S. courts heard 46,956 cases for immigration violations by unaccompanied minors. Of the 19,326 cases in which courts have ruled so far, 9,109 children ordered deported back to horrific conditions that drove their families to send them on the desperate journey from Central America to the U.S.

Above: Central American families, including young children, riding on top of a freight train through Mexico on the way to the U.S. border, July 2014. Photo: AP

Basics, from the talks and writings of Bob AvakianNow I can just hear these reactionary fools saying, “Well, Bob, answer me this. If this country is so terrible, why do people come here from all over the world? Why are so many people trying to get in, not get out?”...Why? I’ll tell you why. Because you have fucked up the rest of the world even worse than what you have done in this country. You have made it impossible for many people to live in their own countries as part of gaining your riches and power.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:14

CHEERS to the New Sanctuary Movement

January 12, 2016

Religious and immigrant rights groups around the country have condemned the armed raids against refugees here from Central America carried out by Homeland Security at the start of this year, calling them illegal, deeply immoral, obscene, and inhumane. They are organizing opposition through online petitions, statements, press conferences, and more. Warnings about possible raids are appearing in Spanish on Twitter. A campaign to educate immigrants is taking place on social media, using hashtags like #Not1More, and #WatchICE. Tips and phone numbers to call if ICE agents show up are being provided, and people are urged not to sign voluntary deportation papers and to ask for their lawyers.

A very significant development within this growing resistance is the new Sanctuary Movement among religious congregations and immigrant rights groups, vowing to offer refuge to illegal immigrants being targeted by federal raids. The original Sanctuary Movement arose in the 1980s, when churches in the Southwest especially provided sanctuary for immigrants from Central America to obstruct and prevent the government’s efforts to deport them. At that time too, thousands and thousands of Salvadorans and Guatemalans were desperately trying to escape from the repression and the genocidal military campaigns being waged by the U.S. directly and through its flunky governments to crush rebellions influenced by its imperialist rival, the Soviet Union.

Read more

In October and November of this year, more than 12,000 people traveling as families were apprehended at the Mexican border. This is over twice the number apprehended in the same months last year.

Above: Immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador, including children, after being stopped in Texas while crossing the border, June 2014. Photo: AP

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