Skip to main content

Fast-tracking children to possible death

By Ruben Navarrette
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
Mothers and children from Honduras prepare to get into a customs agent's truck after crossing the Rio Grande into Texas.
Mothers and children from Honduras prepare to get into a customs agent's truck after crossing the Rio Grande into Texas.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ruben Navarrette: U.S. rushes deportation of thousands of unaccompanied minors
  • Navarrette: System is rigged to make it all but impossible for kids to obtain asylum
  • Navarrette: Deported children reportedly killed upon return to murderous situation they fled
  • He predicts that as thousands of kids are deported, more children will be killed

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor, Daily Beast columnist, and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

San Diego, California (CNN) -- In his epic "Letter from the Birmingham Jail," the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. observed that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

But now that the Obama administration is fast-tracking the deportation of thousands of undocumented minors, perhaps hoping to get rid of them before the November elections, it's clear that expedited justice is just as bad.

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

Some migrants who come to the United States are dying to go home. Sadly, some of these deported kids could be going home to die.

When Americans first learned that as many as 60,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America had made their way into the United States since October 2013, and we heard the horrific stories they told about being assaulted and targeted for murder in their home countries, we had to know this story wasn't going to have a happy ending.

The Obama administration has said from the beginning that most of those children would have to go home. In order to ensure such an outcome, the administration has its thumb on the scale. A lawsuit claims that the system is rigged to make it all but impossible to establish the "credible fear" necessary for the kids to obtain asylum.

Despite the President's claim that there is no rush in returning the children and due process would be preserved, the reality is much different. Kids are given court dates they can't possibly be expected to make -- often in another state. Many don't have lawyers. Deportation cases are being rushed through the pipeline.

Should the U.S. build refugee camps?
Humanitarian crisis ... in America?

According to the New Jersey Star-Ledger, the first bloc of deportation cases against children from Central America are under way in the New Jersey courts. Immigration attorneys and immigrant advocates worry that the children won't have enough time to find a lawyer who can prepare an adequate defense that might allow them to stay in the United States.

Should the U.S. build refugee camps?
Migrant children on a dangerous journey

For Katie Manton, an attorney with Casa de Esperanza, a nonprofit organization in the state that gives low-cost legal services to immigrants, justice expedited is no justice at all.

"Although the court clearly gives them this list of legal providers, I would bet 90% are not going to find lawyers," Manton told the newspaper. "There are not enough, and the time frame they are giving them is very rushed. It's a violation of due process."

Of course, many of these kids will never make it as far as New Jersey. In fact, many have been quietly apprehended at the border and returned to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Last month, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a possible contender for the Democratic nomination in 2016, warned that the administration was giving the migrant children death sentences. O'Malley told a gathering of the National Governors Association in Nashville, Tennessee: "We are not a country that should turn children away and send them back to certain death."

O'Malley was right.

Take it from Hector Hernandez, who runs the morgue in the Honduran town of San Pedro Sula, which is one of the most violent cities in the world. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, he said that at least one child slain in San Pedro Sula since February was deported from the United States. Gang members shot at another young man deported from the U.S. In another case reported by the Los Angeles Times, a boy was shot and killed after leaving a deportation flight, according to his cousin.

The article refers to "thousands" of undocumented Honduran children who were deported by the United States.

By the end of the year, there could easily be many more dead children who -- once upon a time -- managed to escape their hellish environment. They trekked all the way to the United States, only to be captured and sent home without a hearing, without due process, without a chance.

Shame on us. This is not how a great country welcomes the most vulnerable people in the world.

Read CNNOpinion's new Flipboard magazine.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT)
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014.
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1925 GMT (0325 HKT)
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2329 GMT (0729 HKT)
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0134 GMT (0934 HKT)
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2256 GMT (0656 HKT)
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 2011 GMT (0411 HKT)
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0258 GMT (1058 HKT)
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2141 GMT (0541 HKT)
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT