“They return just to die”

Child from Honduras

This post is part of a series delving into the plight of the Central American children and families fleeing violence in Central America. The series will examine the historical context of the crisis, challenges that refugees face, international human rights obligations, and costs of a response.

Children and families fleeing for their lives from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala are being “processed”  by the United States at warp-speed and deported back to their “home” countries. Far too often, each person’s fate is quickly sealed upon their return. “There are many youngsters who only three days after they’ve been deported are killed, shot by a firearm,” said Hector Hernandez, who runs the morgue in San Pedro Sula. “They return just to die.” Hernandez was quoted in the August 18, 2014 Los Angeles Times’ article, “In Honduras, U.S. deportees seek to journey north again.”

From the top down, the process seems to be operating under three simple principles: “Detain. Deny. Deport.” Nationwide, 70 percent of people seeking asylum make it through the initial step of the asylum process, known as the credible fear interview. That percentage does not hold true for the Central American children and families now at the U.S. doorstep. In fact, the percentage plummets to 37 percent at the government’s family detention center in Artesia, New Mexico. This is not an accident; it is a deliberate policy decision to deter future asylum seekers.

Read about what is happening to people after they are deported in “In Honduras, U.S. deportees seek to journey north again.” For them, it’s a matter of life and death.

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