Refugee Children Come to Washington Requesting President Trump's Protection
June 20, 2017
Washington, DC – Today, as part of World Refugee Day, refugee children from Honduras arrived in Washington, DC asking President Trump to be allowed to remain in the country. In an effort to help raise awareness of their call for protection, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) held a press conference regarding the remarkable challenges these children face.
According to the Pew Research Center, Honduras represents one of the most violent regions in Central America. Specifically, San Pedro Sula in Honduras is referred to as the world’s murder capital and, Honduras’ murder rate in 2012 was the highest in the world.
Among the children who arrived in Washington today was eight-year-old Raul Ortiz from Honduras. At today's press conference, Raul read a letter he wrote to President Trump requesting permission to be allowed to remain in the United States. The letter detailed the life-threatening hardships he faces if sent back to Honduras. After the press conference, Raul delivered the letter to his Member of Congress, Representative Brad Schneider of the Illinois 10th Congressional District. In turn, Congressman Schneider will help ensure the letter is sent to the White House.
“We are a country that was founded and built by immigrants and refugees, many fleeing oppression and violence,” said Representative Brad Schneider in a speech on the House Floor. “Raul’s story is our story. We cannot allow the door of opportunity and safety to close on the next generation of Americans, like Raul, seeking refuge here.”
The LULAC Child Refugees United for Freedom Campaign has been active since 2014, when the country saw a surge of refugees from Central America. In response, LULAC Council #5273 organized El Sanctuario de la Virgen de Suyapa. The sanctuary, which is named after the patron saint of Honduras, provides legal services to refugee children and their families seeking to remain in the country.
“Thousands of child refugees fled violence in Central America and today call this country home. With their status uncertain, they know that if returned to their country of origin, they face immediate persecution. We urge President Donald Trump to read the children's plea for help,” said LULAC Council #5273 President Julie Contreras.
The situation for these children is dire, as Raul's mother explains.
“In Honduras I owned a cafeteria in the local college, and every week I was forced to pay the cartel. When I could not make the payment, the cartel took my youngest child Raul and held him for ransom when he was only 5 years old. Once I paid the ransom and got my son, we left Honduras looking for safety in the United States,” said Laura Diaz.
The challenges that these children face were detailed in Raul's letter to President Trump which he read at today's press conference.
“Today is World Refugee Day, and I am here to respectfully bring President Trump a letter I wrote on behalf of all the Central American refugee children in the United States. In my letter, I ask the president to hear our call and grant protection to all refugee children,” said Raul Ortiz, eight-year-old child refugee from Honduras.
Maryori Urbina Contreras, a sixteen year old refugee from Honduras was also present at today's press conference and read a prayer dedicated to all the refugee children in the country.
“I hope President Trump hears our plea for protection, and allows us the opportunity to remain in the country to realize our dreams. I cannot imagine returning to Honduras and be surrounded by constant death and live in fear,” said Maryori Urbina Contreras, sixteen year old refugee from Honduras.
Thanks to the efforts of LULAC Council #5273 and these children's courage, Congressman Schneider submitted the letter to the congressional record and invited Raul and Maryori to accompany him on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Click here to watch the Facebook Live broadcast of Raul reading his letter to President Trump.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.LULAC.org.