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Nelda’s dilemma 5 – Refugee solution requires leadership to address root causes

Image result for violence in latin americaIn El Salvador, there are 60,000+ gang members and overall murder rate is among highest in the world.  A gang set a bus on fire with people inside it. Latin America is home to just 8% of the world’s population but 33% of homicides. Just four countries in the region, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela account for a quarter of all the murders on earth. Of the 20 countries in the world with the highest murder rates, 17 are Latin American, as are 43 of the top 50 cities.

Image result for violence in latin americaNo Mr. Trump, Democrats did not ask for open borders. And no, the democrats did not ask for inhumane crackdown on people pouring in at our border. Any sensible people will avoid either extreme because effective solutions don’t always lie at either extremes. What democrats or any sensible person is saying or acknowledging is that border issue (like most governing issues) is a complex issue. It does not have one size fits all policy solution. It must include addressing broader issue of extreme violence and violence related economies in Latin America. Mr. pugnacious pusillanimous prevaricating potty-mouth putin-propped pointless placeholder #DonaldTrump, this issue like many issues cannot be solved by hiding into a box and building a wall around. Whether it is environment and climate change or refugee crisis, United States must have a seat at the table and take global #leadership in solving complex issues — exactly what #HillaryClinton would have done exactly what Obama administration had taken on.

Image result for solution to violence in latin americaGuatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are amongst the most dangerous countries in the world. If you live there and don’t even try to get out of there and make your way up North, then you are risking your life and your entire family’s life to be killed in gang violence. It is pure and simple human instinct to try to survive and to try to save one’s children.  Additionally, the violence has impacted and permeated into all the surrounding countries in Latin America — all the way from Mexico to Argentina, including in Colombia, Guyana, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and so on.

No, it is not a solution to keep borders open. But democrats are suggesting that complexity of this problem be acknowledged with concrete actions for heart-centered, low and order compliant, compassionate, long term solutions. As Jeh Johnson, former Secretary of Homeland Security in Obama administration said on NPR, we will never  be able to fully address illegal migration unless we address the underlying causes of illegal migration; the powerful, push factors that motivate a mother or a father to send their child on a most dangerous journey to United States in the first place. It is a desperate situation that is pushing people to resort to desperate measures. Only effective way to deal with the border crisis is by thinking long term with bipartisan support and begin to invest in the physical security and economic security of these countries.

Image result for tents to house migrantsUnited States is putting in staggering amounts of money into incarcerating asylum seeking immigrants and already spent stupendous amount in housing and caring for babies and infants. With a fraction of that cost and a heavy dose of compassion, we can begin to address this issue and engage in discussions with Latin American countries. US also has access to phenomenal high tech resources that can be put to use. US can take leadership and get all countries to engage and enhance inter-country cooperation to curb violence and curtail gangs.

If a presidential candidate does not address immigration situation with this kind of long term solution then we need to to be aware that everything else is rhetoric and they won’t work on this in a bipartisan manner which is the only way it can be solved.

It is about time to make sure that each and every single child is united with parents and all children are treated as children, not at criminals.

See links to
Nelda’s journey 1 –
Nelda’s journey 2 –
Nelda’s journey 3 –
Nelda’s  journey 4 –


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Nelda’s journey 4 – Mama deported, Nelda in foster care

Nelda’s mama is deported
Back to Venezuela
Nelda is with foster family
They’re caring and kind

At school Nelda learns
Days are full and fun
But nights bring terror
“Mama”, she sobs

Nights pour into days
Sleepless and scared
Nelda doesn’t care
I’m ok, she says

Nelda isn’t crying
Her tears have dried up
She’s ward in a system
And she’s quietly slipping


Image result for woman deported by us border patrolNelda’s mama is back
She has spent it all
Just to stay alive
And to make the trek

How to pick up pieces
When piece of your heart
Is across impenetrable border
Mi Vida, my life, in air, she says

And then HHS declares
Nelda is to be united
But tragedy has struck
Just before Nelda flies

Uncle gets hold of mama
Remember Nelda’s uncle? (see part 1 of her journey)
Mama is gang raped and killed
What is to become of Nelda?


If you have any difficulty imagining how incredibly dangerous the situation is in Latin America and how perilous the journey it is that people undertake so that they may live or what may happen to kids separated from their parents, then this Nelda’s story though fiction is what I have compiled from reading many actual stories and other reports.
Here are links to
Nelda’s journey 1: Live, I may –
Nelda’s journey 2: I want to die –
Nelda’s journey 3: Conversation with Nelda & her mama –


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Nelda’s Journey 3: Conversation with Nelda and her mama

Q: But Nelda, your mama brought you to abuse our system
A: But my mama was trying to save my life

Related imageQ: Mama, more of you are bringing your kids here, so you can come in.
A: More of us are trying to save our kids when there is more violence or drug economy depleting our jobs and livelihood.

Q: We need zero tolerance to deter you from coming
A: When faced with a choice of running on the path or staying to die, people will always choose to walk on the path wherever it leads. To try to survive is a human instinct and has little to do with policies.

Q: You are coming in illegally.
A: No we are not. We came at the border and turned ourselves in and requested asylum.

Q: Why didn’t you go to port of entry.
A: My mama went 6 times to port of entry and they asked us to come another time. Time was running out on us.

Q: As a mother, I wouldn’t send my kids with coyotes thousands of miles away. Obviously your people don’t care right?
A: As a mother, if your only choice was to send your kid away, you would, any mother would; because a parent will want a child to survive above all else. And these are not my people. People are coming to US border from so many countries in Latin America with similar problems.

Image result for migrant workersQ: But you people come here and take our jobs!
A: I can’t lie to you and say I am not going to work hard so my children have a better life. Anyway I heard that often there is worker shortage here and there are backbreaking jobs that few people want to do.

Q: We can’t keep taking you in. We have to build a wall and keep you out.
A: That is up to you and your conscience. But when experiencing violence and certainty of death, rape, kidnappings, people will walk on the path that is ahead; to where-ever it leads. When your house is on fire, you jump to the net below and you don’t ask will those people rob me, kidnap my child.

Now, can I ask you some questions.

Q: So you want to keep us out but didn’t you come to the US as an immigrant in 1984?
A: Yes, I did — legally.

Image result for legal migrationQ: So why did you leave your country? Did you dream of a better life?
A: Yes, I went to school, got education and then I wanted more opportunities. My family wasn’t rich, I’ve worked hard to be where I am.

Q: And now you’re taking away jobs from others?
A: Yes, but I came here legally, so it’s a fair fight. I came on merit.

Q: So you already had a leg up with good education but you came to the land of opportunity because you wanted a better life? Our biggest fault was to be born in a wrong place.
A: ummm perhaps….

Q: Well….. Those of us coming from violence torn areas of Latin America don’t have a leg up with better education and we are not coming just for a better life. WE WANT A LIFE, before it is snatched away from us, we want to live. You don’t believe that if given a chance, we too may shine on our own merit?
A: We can’t give you a chance on that chance.

Q: I understand. But you are a keeper of world’s righteousness, human rights and all I am asking is please give us a chance to stay alive today and be together.
A: I am sorry mam, we have to enforce the laws.

Image result for refugee moms deported and kids left in USQ: Enforce the laws but please don’t enforce your ad hoc policy of using us as collateral.
A: Sorry mam.

Q: Please can you at least think about it?
A: We are just going to enforce the law.  We’re going to detain 9 year old Nelda and mom is being deported right away.


Here is link to part 1 of nine year old Nelda’s journey –
Here is link to part 2 of Neld’s journey –

PS: It is understandable that no country can have completely open borders. Every country has first responsibility towards its own population. It is also common sense that increasingly we live in a global world and it is increasingly challenging to have impenetrable borders with walls. We need to enhance border security with effective, low cost but high tech 21st century tools. Appropriate strategy to enhance border security must also include 21st century tools with sensors, embedded technology and more so that in addition to enhancing border security, we’re prepared to manage the exodus in a humane way. Appropriate strategy must also include extremely sophisticated negotiations with use of carrots and sticks with neighboring countries to curb violence and drug cartels with enhanced use of high tech for inter country co-operation. To remove all compassion, resort to outdated and costly means of building walls, snatching kids away, adopting ruthlessness devoid of any humanity and not truly address the root causes of the problems are truly abominable and absolutely ineffective practices. These traumatized children can have lasting impact and society will be left to pick up the pieces from intense trauma created by ineffective practices.

Latin America has huge pockets of crime where gangs rule and they target women, children, security personnel, LGBTQ and other members more susceptible and weak. Police are often susceptible or suspect and people have little trust in law enforcement. Organized crime and related economies drive the surge and abatement in violence and form the root causes and concurrent abatement and surge of refugees at our borders and must be addressed.  People do not put children in the hands of smugglers just for fun or because our policies admit them. The path to US border is extremely perilous. The ONLY REASON people send their children and/ or bring them here is because they are literally trying to save themselves and their children from turning up dead or worse. IT WOULD ALSO BE IN OUR BEST INTEREST TO ADHERE TO HUMAN RIGHTS AND TO LECTURE THESE COUNTRIES (AND USE REWARDS & PENALTIES) TO DO THE SAME. Granted, these are far more long term solutions, but we are not even considering them while we are brutally separating families.

Please please please listen to the voices of the children in this recording


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