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We need systemic solutions for this Trump-created crisis.

The president is right about one thing: there's a growing number of migrants reaching our southern border, seeking asylum in our country.

But the Trump administration is responding to their calls for help with sickening human rights abuses that betray not only our country's values, but the demands of basic human decency: gross neglect and abuse of children, families, and pregnant and nursing mothers; inadequate medical care; and insufficient food and clean water.

In other words, rather than pursuing reasonable, effective, and legal solutions, the administration is actively making the crisis worse.

Make no mistake: we must get a handle on this – and fast. That means addressing the reasons that so many citizens are fleeing their home countries.

On my recent visit to two Portland-based shelters for unaccompanied young migrants run by the Morrison Child & Family Services, I heard some of those terrifying stories firsthand.

I spoke with a sixteen-year-old boy from Guatemala who was forced to flee his home when a drug cartel showed up and told him that he had to join their operation, otherwise they'd kill his entire family. With no good alternative, he left his small village and made a difficult and dangerous journey of nearly 2,000 miles to the United States seeking a better life.

And when he got to the U.S., he told us, the Trump administration "treated him like dirt" and told him that he was "an enemy."

These individuals aren't criminals. They're children who have seen their homes torn apart by violence. They've lost family members. And they've come to the United States of America – the land of opportunity – for safety and refuge.

We need to solve systemic issues in order to truly reform our immigration system. The United States must develop a plan that would restore government stability and develop economic opportunity in these countries, so that people aren't driven from their homes – similar to what The Marshall Plan did in Western Europe after World War II.

We were beginning to see a real positive impact in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador thanks to State Department funding of nongovernmental organizations that had been working to improve conditions and increase job opportunities for their people – until President Trump cut this critical funding. We need to restore and increase funding for programs that will stabilize these countries and create prosperity for their people. That means recognizing the ways that global issues – especially climate change and trade – are driving folks from their homes.

At the same time, we must address the conditions on the ground right now.

In Congress, that means not just approving emergency funding for food, water, sanitation items, blankets, medical services, and safe transportation; it also means tightening standards and protocols for Trump's Customs and Border Patrol to ensure the health and safety of those in detention, and improving standards for medical care, nutrition, hygiene, and facilities.

But if we're going to truly address the immigration crisis in a way that's consistent with a commitment to human rights and the rule of law, we have to accept our responsibilities as global leaders by instituting a Marshall Plan for the 21st century.

Stand with me in demanding we pass a 21st century Marshall Plan.


Posted on August 14, 2019.

As Independent as Oregon.

Peter DeFazio's common-sense proposals aim to create good-paying jobs, expand access to affordable health care and develop options outside of the for-profit marketplace, restore economic and educational opportunities, hold government accountable and tip the scales of inequality back in favor of hard-working Oregonians.

Meet Peter