Join me today in praying for asylum seekers from Central America who are coming to the U.S. My name is Fouad Abou-Rizk and I am passionate about international crisis relief and justice for the poor. I write Humanitarian Prayers to raise awareness and promote compassion.
I pray that everywhere asylum seekers from Central America go, they will be treated with mercy and compassion. I pray that they will always be met and assisted by people with resources to help them.
I pray that asylum seekers seeking refuge in the United States will not be seen, described, or treated as criminals, but rather a vulnerable population who America has the opportunity to help. I pray that they will not be detained as criminals when they are seeking the right to be treated under the law as refugees.
I pray that children who had been separated from their parents earlier in the year will have healing for the trauma that they experienced. I pray that all the children who have not yet been reunited with their parents will be reunited swiftly.
I pray that the stronghold that gangs and violence have on the Central American countries of Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador will be broken. I pray that the governments of those countries will be able to keep the peace and make their countries safe places for their citizens to live.
Notes and Explanations
Before explaining the specifics of the situation facing these asylum seekers, I would like to explain what a refugee is, how they should be treated under international law, and how that is not being met in the United States.
The United States, along with 140+ other countries is a signatory to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a document by the United Nations that outlines the definitions and rights of refugees and the responsibilities of countries in how they have to treat refugees. The definition of a refugee according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees is…
A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so.
The United States has not traditionally regarded those fleeing violence and persecution from Latin America as refugees under the law. Instead, when such a person arrives in the U.S., they have to go to court and apply for asylum, meaning they must convince the court that they are deserving of refugee status. The United States government breaks several key aspects of the Convention, better known as The 1951 Refugee Convention, such as…
- The right not to be punished for illegal entry into the territory of a contracting State
- The right of freedom of movement within the territory
- The right to be protected from refoulement (definition: the forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they are liable to be subjected to persecution.)
The current system that the U.S. government has in place that detains asylum seekers until they can argue their case in court and deports asylum seekers in great numbers breaks these components of the Refugee Convention, among others.
Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing persecution and violence in Central American countries each year to come to the United States.
Earlier this year, the U.S. government separated over 2000 children from their parents at the border who did not enter through official ports of entry, even if they were seeking asylum (protection), saying that they hoped it would be a deterrent to those who would enter the U.S. illegally.
Many of those children have been traumatized by their experiences. Over 300 of those children have still not been reunited with their parents who had been deported, even though the court ordered deadline for that to occur was in July.