Panelists discuss war on children

In light of the recent migrations of tens of thousands of undocumented and unaccompanied minors from Central American countries to the United States, Campus Ministry and the Student Leadership Team (SLT) recently hosted an event called “Childhood: Undocumented.”

The event took place at the Carter Auditorium on Nov. 4 and discussed this growing issue and featured five panelists who answered different questions regarding the issue that were prepared by SLT beforehand.

The panelists discussed how they see this issue as a “war on children.” Children are mainly pushed out of their home countries because of domestic violence. Human trafficking brings children to the U.S., but many leave because they fear their lives. This is mainly because of the demand for illegal drugs in the United States. Thus, cartels and gangs in Central America are stronger than ever, which causes more violence in these countries. Children are often manipulated and used as drug mules.

Yet, the U.S. doesn’t necessarily greet these children with open arms. Some families get put into family detention centers where they are treated poorly, and children often get separated from their parents. Children without families actually have to be present in a courtroom. These children have little time to put a case together and figure out what to do in this legal setting. Even after they go through all of this, only 60% of children get to stay in the United States.  

However, the panelists mentioned the Refugee Convention of 1954. Refugees have rights, but people are constantly forgetting that. The panelists also mentioned that this new population could offer new ways of thinking. These children can contribute new views into our society.

At the end of the event, the panelists answered the question, “What can students do?” The panelists had different answers, but the main theme was for students to “be informed.” Being aware of this issue and talking about it with other people helps the issue become more widespread and thus, more known by people.

The panelists also talked about how students should remember where they came from and what their ancestors had to do to get here. Being reflective and remembering our ancestors will give us a better appreciation for what we have today.

Follow Amanda on Twitter @amarkoepolo