Don’t shut Latin Americans out of refugee pool

Giancarlo Lizarraga, Infographic Editor

The Trump administration’s attempt to impede the process by which refugees come to live and work in the United States is unjustified.

Many people from Central American countries are trying to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster and secure asylum in the U.S. Blocking refugees from settling in this country will not improve national security and it dangerously increases xenophobia in America.

The Department of Homeland Security is currently considering revoking the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from Honduran, Nicaraguan, Haitian and Salvadoran refugees.

By getting rid of TPS, the Trump administration is attempting to mend the “loopholes” that supposedly allow criminals to enter the country as refugees, as Trump mentioned in his state of the union address.

While Trump and his advisors continue to generate fear against refugees, most rumors about criminal refugees entering the country are simply incorrect. Studies such as one done by the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2007 have proven that immigrants commit fewer crimes and are incarcerated at a lower rate than natural-born citizens.

Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua are countries targeted by the government for their high numbers of refugees. Ironically, it is past U.S. involvement that has likely led these countries to have so many people seeking asylum elsewhere.

The 1954 coup of Guatemala leader Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, who allowed the country’s communist party to exist, was executed by U.S.- backed Nicaragua president Anastasio Somoza. The coup resulted in a civil war where numerous atrocities and the deaths of 200,000 civilians took place.

Respected leader of the Salvadorian people Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero was assassinated in 1980 by the Roberto D’Aubuisson’s right-wing group. The CIA knew the details of D’Aubuisson’s plan and still did not stop him.

Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a coup that resulted in the election of current President Porfirio Lobo. Lobo used state-sponsored repression to silence his opposition and yet the Obama administration still supported him.

Today, Honduras and Guatemala have the highest homicide rates in the world according to Amnesty International. El Salvador is also ranked as one of the deadliest countries outside of a warzone by the United Nations.

Refugee families are not flocking to the United States to create the same crime-ridden circumstances found in their “shithole” countries; they are trying to escape the poor situations likely caused by the U.S. intervention in their internal affairs.

The Trump administration is hell-bent on restricting refugees from staying in the country, but recently they’ve been forced to roll-back some of their policies. Yet most of these changes are still elongating the process to become a refugee.

On January 31 of this year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it will process refugee applications in reverse order. This may work in the favor of people just now applying for asylum status, but it essentially blocks previous applications from ever seeing the light of day.

The revised refugee policy put in place in October of last year banned refugees from 11 countries, that are primarily considered to be to be 10 Muslim-majority countries and North Korea. In a small step forward, this ban was lifted this January, but applicants are now expected to provide even more detailed backgrounds and relinquish access to their electronic devices for security purposes.

Extreme conditions in these countries have forced many of these families to find a better future elsewhere, but it seems the U.S. has dug them into a hole of indefinite waiting periods and unease.

Instead of avoiding the issue and generating fear of refugees, the U.S. government needs to face the facts and make an informed decision on what the future holds for these desperate humans.