September 14, 2019


Phoenix, Arizona – The plight of Central American refugees claiming asylum in the United States, or to be more specific, being part of caravans originating from the Northern Triangle in Central America: Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, have created bipartisan discord and punishing policies for those detained. Trump is pushing hard on building the wall and is diverting money from several sources, including military bases. At his rallies, he has greatly exaggerated the characteristics of the members of these caravans and so have various news sources. There have been members of government who have gone to the US-Mexico border to investigate the treatment of refugees. Partly what spurred the greater interest in this humanitarian plight is that the USA was separating parents from their children and keeping them in cages. It is true that Obama detained people at the border and did little to fast track their asylum cases. Claiming asylum is legal under national and international law and what is needed at the border is not a wall or cages for children. What is needed is lawyers and judges to hear the refugee’s pleas and cases.

According to an official release by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) on September 10, 2019, the total number of people apprehended  at the U.S. and Mexico border was 64,006. They stated this was a decline from July and a 56% decline from the peak in May of 2019. The public release stated: “Recent domestic policy initiatives and international agreements to address legal and illegal immigration have contributed to the decline, including: agreements with Guatemala to address irregular migration, the Migrant Protection Protocols with Mexico, the final rule regarding non-Mexican asylum seekers at the southern border, interior enforcement operations, and international cooperation between the United States and Central American countries, particularly efforts to disrupt and dismantle alien smuggling organizations.”

CBP stated on August 8, 2019, that the majority of migrants crossing the Southern border continue to come from the Northern Triangle. The U.S. is not the only country seeing an influx of refugees from this area. Other places, like Mexico and South America, have seen a large increase of asylum seekers. According to Amnesty International, these areas have seen an increase of 432% seeking asylum from Northern Triangle countries. The U.S., in 2014, only granted 3.7% asylum compared to Mexico that accepted 24.7%.

CBP is focused on decreasing asylum seekers without questioning why there are asylum seekers in such large numbers from the Northern Triangle. The U.S. has been involved in the Northern Triangle since the 1950s. Companies like the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita) and Dole basically took land and paid poor wages to workers harvesting fruit. A good portion of this land belonged to indigenous peoples. Communism, in countries like Guatemala, began to envision a future of claiming land held by US companies and paying fair wages to workers. US companies pled with the U.S. government to become involved. The Central Intelligence Agency began covert operations in Guatemala and planned the assassination of the duly elected Jacobo Arbenz. A released CIA document, dated 1954, demonstrates the U.S. was alarmed by Arbenz’ sweeping agrarian reform, which harmed the United Fruit Company’s hold on the land and threatened a disastrous plummet in their profits. The CIA, according to recently released and redacted documents, compiled a list of targets in the Arbenz government or those who were powerful supporters. Arbenz was assassinated in 1954 and a CIA backed coup ensued. This was painstakingly detailed by a staffer at the CIA.

The U.S. involvement in the Northern Triangle did not end in the 1950s. There was further U.S. military and CIA involvement throughout the decades, and we remain involved politically by supporting coups. President Donald Trump has even cut off significant aid to this area because he believed they were not doing enough to stem the flow of refugees to the U.S.

MS-13, an international criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles, was created to protect El Salvadorans from other gangs in the area. They were well-known for their cruel practices. Many were arrested and put in U.S. prisons. Later, most of these prisoners were deported back to El Salvador and then they infiltrated the Northern Triangle with their violence.

There is a pattern of U.S. involvement in the Northern Triangle countries that has destabilized them and has led inexorably to the current migrant/refugee crisis. The United Nations has calculated that there has been a 2,249% increase of migrants/refugees from the Northern Triangle between 2011-2016. According to CBP, there is now a decline due to a variety of political reasons. Yet, other countries have also absorbed refugees from the Northern Triangle and have granted asylum at significantly higher rates than the U.S. despite the fact that the U.S. is a causative factor in the crisis dating back to the 1950s, according to public documents, and continues to be a causative factor. This is the real injustice of the U.S. border crisis.

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