Immigrant Children

May 21, 2014

To the Editor:

Re “U.S. Setting Up Emergency Shelter in Texas as Youths Cross Border Alone” (news article, May 17):

The United States is experiencing a child migration emergency that calls for an entirely new system to govern the way we treat children who are coming alone to the United States.

As long-term advocates for the rights of refugee and immigrant children, we recognize that the government must enact emergency procedures to provide children with temporary care. But we cannot lose sight of why these children are coming in the first place: to seek protection from the rampant violence in their home countries — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — that their own governments are unable to control.

Those children who cannot return safely must be provided protection under our immigration laws. At the same time, we must address the root causes of this historic migration; this can best be done through helping countries in the region better protect their children and provide alternatives to migration.

The solution to this crisis is going to take all agencies of our government, nongovernmental organizations and other stakeholders working collaboratively to ensure that we care for these children.

Washington, May 19, 2014

The writer is president of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND).