Responding to the startling wave of refugee children fleeing Central American who have arrived at the Texas-Mexico border in recent months seeking refuge in the U.S. , the Equal Justice Center has mobilized its attorneys, law students, and interns have mobilized to help address their humanitarian need for legal counsel and assistance.
One of the primary refugee shelters where these refugee children are being temporarily held and processed is at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Teams from the Equal Justice Center’s offices and San Antonio and Austin have been cleared to interview the children at the Lackland AFB facility to begin documenting who each child is and the circumstances that have led them to flee their home country. This is the vital first step to ensure that these children receive humanitarian due process of law, and to secure badly needed legal representation for those who may qualify for refuge under the humanitarian laws of our nation.
The children who are being interviewed by EJC teams, like most of those who have been arriving in recent months, are primarily coming from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. They have been telling EJC interviewers of the epidemic drug and gang violence that have put them in danger of being killed, assaulted, or coerced into gang servitude and prostitution. They have recounted the inability of their governments to protect them. Perhaps most heart-rending, they recount the despair of the families they have left behind who hate to see their children leave but fear even more for their children’s safety and health if they stay.
The Equal Justice Center has been conducting these documentation-interviews in close collaboration with RAICES, the front-line immigrant rights organization that is spearheading legal assistance efforts for these refugee children. In coming weeks EJC will be reinforcing and adapting its expertise and advocacy to help these children receive the humanitarian due process they deserve and to help the public understand and uphold our historic national values as a nation of refuge for immigrants fleeing oppression.