THE BLOG
05/16/2016 10:26 am ET Updated May 17, 2017

Obama's Cruel Decision to Resume Mass Deportations

According to NPR, "U.S. immigration officials are planning to detain and deport immigrants who were part of the surge of Central Americans who crossed into the U.S. illegally over the past two years . . . ." And, lest one believe, as the Office of Homeland Security is claiming, that this has anything to do with national security, "immigration agents are mainly targeting young mothers with small children, and unaccompanied youths who turned 18 after they entered the U.S." This deportation will be carried out through "'a months-long series of raids in May and June.'"

Sending mothers and young children back to countries from which they are fleeing violence is immoral and cruel as Pope Francis has recently emphasized. It is also illegal, as the U.S. is required under international law, for example under Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to accept such refugees who are fleeing from persecution in their home counties. And, when one considers the U.S.'s role in creating the conditions of persecution these refugees are fleeing, the immoral and criminal nature of Obama's planned course of action is crystal clear.

Put quite simply, the U.S. owes these refugees a home in light of the fact that the U.S. has mercilessly destroyed their home countries over the past century or so. Let's take the case of Guatemala for starters, where the U.S. supported a series of brutal military dictatorships after overthrowing its democratically-elected President back in 1954. As Irma Alicia Velasquez Nimatuj explained in the The New York Times:

in 1954 . . . the United States, in the name of anticommunism and in the defense corporate interests of the United Fruit Company, helped depose the democratic government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán.

From that moment on, the United States assured that an ultraconservative line remained in power until 1985. The United States financed brutal counterinsurgency campaigns with forces it trained in the School of the Americas. By interfering in state policies it shared responsibility for the genocidal campaigns carried out by the military regimes in Guatemala, including the government of Ríos Montt. Ronald Reagan, in particular, supported and exalted the regime of Ríos Montt, reducing the massacres and dehumanization of indigenous communities to a "bum rap" for Ríos Montt. The anticommunist sentiment shared by the two leaders provided an incentive for the armed forces to continue carrying out a genocide against the 22 Maya groups of the country.

As Ms. Velasquez noted, the massive violence that the U.S. unleashed on Guatemalan society has yet to abate: "The long-term effects of the massacres are not only visible in the loss of lives and brilliant minds but on the current fragmentations of Guatemalan society. U.S. foreign policy tore apart the social fabric of the country. These policies struck the indigenous population mercilessly, especially in rural areas."

The very same can be said of the U.S.-sponsored massacres in El Salvador. As explained by Robert Bonner, a journalist for The New York Times at the height of the U.S.-sponsored war in that country:

In El Salvador, more than 75,000 lost their lives during the civil war, which lasted from 1980 until the 1992 peace agreement. The guerrillas committed atrocities, but the United Nations Truth Commission, established as part of the accord, found that more than 85 percent of the killings, kidnappings, and torture had been the work of government forces, which included paramilitaries, death squads, and army units trained by the United States.

The United States went well beyond remaining largely silent in the face of human-rights abuses in El Salvador. The State Department and White House often sought to cover up the brutality, to protect the perpetrators of even the most heinous crimes.

And then there is Honduras where the democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a coup in 2009 led by two generals trained by the U.S. at its infamous School of the Americas (a/k/a WHINSEC) in Fort Benning, Georgia. The U.S. then recognized the fraudulent elections which followed and solidified this coup, and things have never been the same for that country.

As Dana Frank, writing in The New York Times, explained in 2012:

the coup was what threw open the doors to a huge increase in drug trafficking and violence, and it unleashed a continuing wave of state-sponsored repression.

The . . . government of President Lobo won power in a November 2009 election managed by the same figures who had initiated the coup. Most opposition candidates withdrew in protest, and all major international observers boycotted the election, except for the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which are financed by the United States.

President Obama quickly recognized Mr. Lobo's victory, even when most of Latin America would not. Mr. Lobo's government is, in fact, a child of the coup. It retains most of the military figures who perpetrated the coup, and no one has gone to jail for starting it.

This chain of events -- a coup that the United States didn't stop, a fraudulent election that it accepted -- has now allowed corruption to mushroom. The judicial system hardly functions. Impunity reigns. At least 34 members of the opposition have disappeared or been killed, and more than 300 people have been killed by state security forces since the coup, according to the leading human rights organization Cofadeh. At least 13 journalists have been killed since Mr. Lobo took office, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The violence in Honduras, much of it state-sponsored, continues to this day, and the death toll continues to mount. The most notable example of this violence was the recent assassination of human rights and environmental activist Beatrice Cáceres earlier this year.

Much more can be said, for example about the U.S.-backed Contra war against Nicaragua in the 1980's or the lawless military assault upon Panama by President Bush in 1989 which killed hundreds if not thousands of innocent civilians. But suffice it to say that the U.S. has taken a wrecking ball to Central America, over and over again. And now, when innocent women and children flee from the violence we have unleashed upon them, Obama wants to initiate another set of raids to detain them and send them back to the miserable conditions the U.S. has helped to create for them. This is the height of cruelty and must be opposed.