Below is an excerpt from KIND board member Sonia Nazario’s op-ed in The New York Times
Last August, Lesli Gonzalez, 22, got a phone call at 6 a.m. Did she know Doralinda Lopez de León, a Guatemalan girl who said she was running from danger and had been caught by border patrol agents entering the United States? Yes, Lesli said, she’s my cousin.
Doralinda, 17, had crossed into the United States alone, without a parent. That meant she was “unaccompanied,” a designation that triggers special, well-deserved protections for children who were once routinely targeted by traffickers at the border. Instead of being quickly deported, Central American minors are allowed to enter the United States and make their case that they qualify to stay in this country legally before an immigration judge.
This month, President Trump told Congress that to give legal status to Dreamers like Lesli, whose Mexican parents brought her to the United States unlawfully when she was 3 months old, they must strip protections from children like her cousin Doralinda.
To Lesli, this cruel Catch-22 is not a trade-off that Congress should be forced to make: securing legal status for people like her while throwing Doralinda to the wolves. It’s not just a choice for Congress. This moment should force a reckoning for everyone in this country. Are we going to use child refugees running from harm as a negotiating chip?
Doralinda told me that despite desperate circumstances growing up, she always preferred to stay in the land she loves: Guatemala.