(The following Letter to the Editor has been submitted by Martha Steele of
"Through my church I recently became involved in AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities). This program enlists Lutheran congregations to help children and youth fleeing the unimaginable gang and drug violence in their homes in Central America. Late in June I discovered through first hand experience with immigrant friends that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is now targeting family members who have paid a coyote to smuggle their children across the border. The vast majority of unaccompanied minors who enter the US seeking refuge are also seeking reunification with family members who can adequately care for them. ICE has recently developed a "surge initiative" to uncover, arrest, and deport family members who have paid someone to bring their children across the border. These children are refugees, seeking to leave behind some of the highest rates of rape and murder in the world. They are worthy of our concern. The removal of their adult family members will throw the youth into detention centers or foster care, at huge financial cost and even larger human cost. Please speak to Senators Ernst and Grassley and Representative Blum to decry this policy and to urge humane immigration reform."