LAWTON, OK, July 25, 2014 -- A delegation of immigration activists from Kansas arrived at the entry gates of Fort Sill Military Base in Lawton, OK today, seeking to raise awareness of the plight of the 1,000 or more detained immigrant children from Central American countries who are fleeing widespread poverty and violence in their home countries. Many of the children are in the United States seeking asylum as refugees. The Sunflower Community Action group, a social justice non-profit headquartered in Wichita, KS, which lobbies on behalf of immigrant rights and social injustices plaguing minorities, grew concerned after learning that the children were allegedly being held in cages similar to animal kennels and were are at an impasse in receiving humanitarian aide due to the inaction of politicians both in Oklahoma and in Washington, D.C. who have refused to address comprehensive immigration reform and to acknowledge the border crisis as a humanitarian issue.

 

Executive Director Sulma Arias described the trip as a success stating, “We accomplished what we set out to do in providing our members an opportunity to see firsthand how the children are being cared for. Although we didn’t get an opportunity to see the children in person, we did get an opportunity to meet with the lead counsel representing the children, who works with them every day and we now feel very good about the situation these children are in after learning, the most important aspect of our trip, that these children are being very well taken care of. Additionally, we wanted to express our individual stories to educate the people of Oklahoma on the real reasons why these children are coming here.”

 

            Ms. Arias explained that the resources and infrastructure of these countries have been depleted, due to a number of factors, but largely because of the Central American Free Trade Agreement and North American Free Trade Agreement which both have caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and has slowed economic growth in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras as well as in the United States. Her statements parallel those made by the Presidents of the Central American nations in today’s meeting with President Obama, who called on the President to address the root of the problem, addressing the problems within the U.S. immigration system and to also address the United States drug consumption, which is fueling the violence in their countries and making the drug cartels, the most violent of whom are trained military professionals, wealthy and more brazen. Ms. Arias is hopeful that President Obama will heed the efforts of immigration activists across the country in working with congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and to cease the practice of deporting more people before first addressing the root causes of the problems, investing in infrastructure in the Central American countries to boost job growth and curb poverty.

 

The group is headed back home to Kansas, with Deputy Director Rebuen Eckels being confident that their efforts will remind people of the moral obligation to help those in need, echoing the sentiments of vigil attendees who held signs reminding people that the immigrant children are human and reading “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The Emma Lazarus quote emblazoned on the Statue of Liberty. Tweeting throughout the day with the hashtags #nationofimmigrants and #iamanimmigrant the group is preparing to continue combating anti-immigrant rhetoric in the home state of Kris Kobach, Kansas’ outspoken Secretary of State who has become the poster boy for anti-immigration in the United States helping to author and enact some of the nations toughest immigration laws, from the 2002 National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, which targeted people from largely Muslim countries after 9/11 and SB-1070 in Arizona and HB 56 in Alabama, each of which have been used to profile Latinos who look “undocumented.”

Impreso el 2014-07-28