By Sean Lewis, Esq.
Immigration Attorney, Nashville, TN
July 4, 2014

Obama Is the Refouler in Chief Who Killed Immigration Reform

The humanitarian crisis involving unaccompanied minors from Central America highlights our failed policies at all levels of our dysfunctional government. Rather than address immigration reform as he promised voters before he was elected, Obama obsessively crammed health care reform down our throats and created the atmosphere of distrust leading the House Republicans to ignore the issue of immigration reform. The House Republicans probably would have found another excuse to avoid fixing our broken immigration system, but they cite Obama Care to justify obstructionism so that is what we are supposed to believe.
Putting aside the blame-mongering, Obama has boldly announced that he is sending immigration judges to the border to more quickly deport unaccompanied minors back to the violence and poverty they have fled in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. To justify such a cavalier move, President Obama blames the Republicans and the Republicans blame Obama for the crisis.

borderThe saddest part of this theatrical performance is that Obama is ready, willing and able to violate the United States’ obligations under the Convention Against Torture by summarily sending a class of refugees back to persecution or torture without due process of law. He is a King and we are all his subjects.

There is little difference between waves of refugees fleeing persecution, torture and death from Nazi Germany, Syria and Central America, given the dire country conditions currently in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Those countries are unwilling and unable to protect children and their families from murder, rapes and torture by gang members who operate as a de facto government. The gangs now seek to recruit children in the elementary schools, especially in Guatemala. Refusal to join, for instance the Mara 18 gang, often ends up in the murder, kidnapping and torture of family members.

The majority of people living in Central America live in such dire poverty that private security or protection is unavailable to them. Sending a child to the United States, via Mexico atop a freight train is a desperate measure no parent can imagine. Once in Mexico, corrupt police, gang members and human smugglers often beat and rape the migrants.

This writer personally observed the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas break into tears in front of a group of several thousand immigration attorneys last week upon recounting a story he heard from his morning briefing on the border situation. He described a 12 year-old child carrying his dead mother to a border patrol station who had been killed just shy of the U.S. Border. This writer has assisted many women and children from Central America who were victims of brutal rapes and violence in their asylum cases before the immigration courts. These stories are real and involve the most vulnerable and fragile of all human being, poor women and children, many of whom are bona fide refugees.

Denying the opportunity to apply for asylum, or sending these folks back in a summary fashion ignores the lessons we learned as a nation following World War II. The United States has obligations under the Convention Against Torture which include not sending victims of persecution back to the persecutor. That obligation is called the doctrine of “non-refoulment” (non-return). Obama appears ready and able to ignore international obligations and smear our reputation in the eyes of the world for political points by summary removal of unaccompanied minors.

If Obama gets his way, he will not only go down as the President who has deported more immigrants in U.S. History, he will be known as the “Refouler in Chief”.

Contact the writer, Sean Lewis at 615-226-4236