If there is a list somewhere of the greatest threats to America’s national security, children likely come in towards the bottom. Yes, they cry on airplanes and occasionally roam wild, but generally these are sources of irritation rather than alarm. Yet, since last summer, the United States government has been locking up hundreds of mothers and children.
Fox News Latino featured an op-ed by HIAS Vice President for Policy and Advocacy Melanie Nezer on the growing numbers of Central American asylum seekers heading to Panama. "Despite a long history as a country of refuge, the asylum system in Panama is under-resourced and cannot keep up with the volume of asylum claims," Nezer writes.
Daniel*, a Colombian refugee living in Ecuador, showed me this music video when I visited his family’s home. Like so many other Colombian families we work with in Central America, gang violence made their life there untenable. When a local gang tried to force Daniel’s older brother to join, his mother Lorena* decided that their only choice was to flee.
HIAS Latin America helps refugees who have fled Colombia’s decades-old civil war and prolonged internal violence. Since the beginning of the war, more than four million Colombians have been displaced within the country and as many as 750,000 have fled the country as refugees. HIAS’ offices in Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela provide crucial psychological and therapeutic services to Colombian refugees that would otherwise have no access to these types of services.