Deporter in chief: Not the Obama I voted for

A recent headline reads “U.S. steps up deportation of Central American migrants.” Is this the response of the Obama administration to the humanitarian crisis on the southwestern border? The president said he wants to streamline the deportation process so that tens of thousands of helpless children could be sent back to their countries of origin. This is a monstrous, inhuman policy that is sending children to their deaths. This is not the Obama I campaigned and voted for.

Obama is capitulating to the most foul racism in the land. Racists, the white supremacists who oppose the brown and largely Indigenous masses crossing the border, are “shaking in their boots” at the mere thought of demographic change. Why is Obama siding with a racist minority?

He is even to the right of many Republicans in this crisis. Case in point, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has indicated he supports many of the children being housed in that state. Yet, Obama wants to send them back.

His record on the immigration issue is shocking: throughout his presidency he has been quietly, but with great alacrity and efficiency, deporting over 400,000 undocumented immigrants a year. Does he want to show he has no compassion for people of color? No compassion for children?

Recently, this journalist saw a news report of a family who lived in Minnesota until their visas expired and they were deported. Back in Honduras the father, who was victim of attempted extortion by criminal gangs, was killed. Obama in deporting thousands has already condemned thousands to grisly deaths.

So far this year over 52,000 children have crossed the border, vast numbers of whom are Indigenous youngsters, speaking neither English nor Spanish, mostly from the Central American republics of  Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. All of these countries have  large Native Indian populations, with Guatemala having a huge Native majority.

By the most recent statistical information on the migrants, 37 percent came from Guatemala, 30 percent came from Honduras and 26 percent from El Salvador. Why are these children, mothers and teenage females leaving their homes and risking life and limb (keep in mind that countless numbers die on this perilous journey each year), riding on the tops of freight trains, many walking for hundreds of miles across deadly desert terrain with little food and water, risking abuse and death from bandits and other assorted hazards, all to get to the U.S.?

What has been missing from the mainstream media newscasts of the mass migration is that U.S. imperialism is responsible for the border crisis, going back decades, in its installation and maintenance of barbaric, monstrously brutal right-wing military dictatorships that have, in the name of “anti-communism” killed tens of thousands of their own citizens with impunity. These proxy armies were armed to the teeth by the U.S. government. Life in these countries, because of U.S. plunder of their resources, most recently due to the North American and Central American Free Trade Agreements, has degenerated to the point that thousands are pouring out of their homelands in a desperate attempt to find a refuge from the  life-threatening maelstrom imposed on them .

A classic example is Guatemala, as it is no coincidence that the majority of emigres are from that long-suffering and beleaguered nation. In 1954 a CIA-engineered coup overthrew the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz. The result – spiraling political repression, crushing poverty of the peasantry and working masses, and racist persecution of the Maya Indian majority – brought a horrendous, bloody civil war to the country that raged from the early 1980’s to the Peace Accords of 1996. This journalist was in Guatemala along with several hundred other Natives from throughout the hemisphere, in 1991, in support of the Maya insurgency, and saw first-hand the results of American military handiwork – the attempted genocide of the Indigenous majority – over 200,000 killed more often than not with the most sadistic, medieval  barbarity. The U.S. from 1954 onward supplied the gore-encrusted armies of the right in Central America with all the latest military hardware to butcher and slaughter its own citizens.

Pro-democracy forces in most of Central America have been brutally and barbarically suppressed due to U.S. military and political support of the most  backward, feudal-minded elites and their military henchmen. Life for ordinary citizens has become untenable.

In early July on a Sunday news affairs program, a Catholic bishop from El Paso, Texas, said the border crisis was like ” a house burning and people jumping out of the windows.” For Obama to send children, mothers and teens back is akin to  throwing them back into the burning house to their deaths.

In mid-July prominent news commentator Cokie Roberts said the government “can’t send the kids home, this would be preposterous.” Yet, Obama wants more power to deport helpless, suffering children.

In recent days mothers with children – 33 minors aged 6 months to 15 years and 26 mothers – were sent back to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. This is considered the most dangerous city in the world. Details of the deportation were sketchy, leading one to believe laws were violated.

The current law, the Wilberforce Act, holds that children, particularly from Central America, can’t be quickly sent back. The law mandates that immigrants, particularly children, cannot be summarily deported when they are from non-contiguous nations.

News reports indicate Obama wants to have the law changed to allow the Border Patrol to make decisions to send the children back swiftly. This is a humanitarian crisis and Obama proposes a plan to eliminate the victims! Obama has been getting a free ride for too long on too many issues from progressives and the left. This has to stop, in particular on this issue.

At one time there was talk of a presidential moratorium on all deportations. He should issue an immediate presidential  moratorium to stop the mass deportations and ensure the beginning of fair treatment for all émigrés.

Photo: A group of immigrant mothers and children from Honduras and El Salvador who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, as they are stopped in Granjeno, Texas, June 25. Eric Gay/AP


Albert Bender
Albert Bender

Albert Bender is a Cherokee activist, historian, political columnist, and freelance reporter for Native and Non-Native publications. He is currently writing a legal treatise on Native American sovereignty and working on a book on the war crimes committed by the U.S. against the Maya people in the Guatemalan civil war He is a consulting attorney on Indigenous sovereignty, land restoration, and Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) issues and a former staff attorney with Legal Services of Eastern Oklahoma (LSEO) in Muskogee, Okla.