In the ever-growing debate regarding immigration in the United States of America, not even the possible deaths of some immigrant children may face if deported back to their country of origins seems to quell the debate’s intensity. In fact, for one American congressman the deaths should not stop the deportation process but should continue despite immigrant children possibly losing their lives.
A few weeks ago, LatinTRENDS reported on recent horrendous reports coming out of Honduras of deported immigrant children dying as they returned to the country’s murder capital known as, San Pedro Sula. But according to Republican Robert Pittenger (R-NC) the deaths of children upon their return should not stop the deportation process yet they should continue.
“It’s the most egregious, awful crime and a pity, what has happened to these young children,” said Pittenger about the deaths of the immigrant children, “But do you want to open up America’s doors to the entire world? We can’t handle the healthcare and education today for our own population! We have to be sensible about what we our system can manage. So you put them on planes and you send them back.”
The first term House Republican from North Carolina is currently running unopposed for yet another term to represent the 9th District of his state. And while his comments in-lieu of the reports of children’s deaths is shocking, they are not unusual for the congressman. Before a small crowd of his constituents last Tuesday night, Pittenger assured his crowd of supporters that he would continue to address the crisis regarding the tens of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children entering the country. And another set of immigrant children.
At the town hall meeting in Charlotte, Pittenger told the crowd that he aided the House of Representatives pass a bill that would see to the deportation of not only the newly arrived migrant children but to immigrant children who have been raised within the U.S., these immigrant children have been commonly known as DREAMers. However, the measure of this new bill haven’t been enacted because, according to Pittenger, the Democratic-controlled Senate is refusing it.
Pittenger, believes another reason for the delays in removing immigrants from the country—which he like many other politicians and other Americans feel are a problem in this country—is due to President Barack Obama allegedly abusing an anti-trafficking law.
According to Pittenger, President Obama has been abusing a 2002 human trafficking law first signed by President George W. Bush which was reauthorized in 2008 to increase protections for unaccompanied children from Mexico who were apprehended crossing the border into the country. Under the new additions to the law, the unaccompanied children are automatically returned to their country of origin without any formal deportation proceedings because the two countries share a border. However, for other countries in Central America may differ.
Because of the large number of children entering the U.S. from Central America as well, it appears the President is being accused of not sending the detained migrant children as the law permits. This accusation doesn’t seem sound considering President Obama currently has the highest immigration deportation record and has considered waiving the changes to the 2008 law in order to speed deportations.
However, the latter consideration by the President didn’t go through considering the public outcry from the international law and human rights community.
From the Senate to President Obama, another cause for the “halt” in deportation proceedings for immigrant children also lies within Congress. Pittenger claims that Democrats are at fault for the failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform when it went to Congress. The reason: Democrats wanted a path to citizenship for some undocumented people to be added to the reform…something not all Republicans and Democrats agreed with thus caused the conflict
“I speak to Hispanic radio and newspapers and they’re not talking about that. It’s not even on their mind,” Pittenger explained, stating that Latinos in the country are not concerned with the path to citizenship measure. “They want to be here legally and come out of the shadows and work, but I don’t hear them demanding US citizenship. But [Democrats] want to use that and embrace these people for their political agenda.”
However, studies have discredited Pittenger’s claims.
In a 2012 Pew Research Center survey it was discovered that more than 90% of Hispanic immigrants—both with and without legal citizenship—do aspire to become US citizens therefore a measure such as path to citizenship for undocumented workers would be pursued.
Currently, North Carolina’s stance within the immigration debate has acquired some media attention. Unlike the Californian town of Murrieta which came out in protest of the arrival of immigrants and immigrant children to a nearby detention facility, the North Carolina county of Surry passed a resolution to keep unaccompanied migrant children out of their region.
According to the resolution, the purpose for keeping out detained immigrant children was to ensure no diseases they were carrying would be passed onto residents. This fear that detained immigration carried communicable diseases has been a fear that has already been debunked. The fear first started when North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory demanded health records of an estimated 1,200 unaccompanied detained children who were placed in the state and wanted to protect citizens from possible “diseased-infected” children.
Along with Surry County, Rowan and Brunswick counties are two other North Carolina counties who have passed similar resolutions to ban unaccompanied immigrant children.
Despite the opinions of Pittenger and these counties’ choosing to ban detained immigrant children, not all counties or people within North Carolina are choosing to treat children as criminals. Other counties within North Carolina—including Charlotte City—are preparing to house any unaccompanied immigrant children. Currently, the state has welcomed an estimated 1,400 children as they await their fate.