CARING FOR REFUGEES; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 112
(Senate - July 17, 2014)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages S4598-S4599]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                          CARING FOR REFUGEES

  Mr. KAINE. Madam President, in the last year I have been to Jordan, 
Turkey, and Lebanon to visit Syrian refugees and the organizations that 
work with them. I have seen the effects of refugees fleeing violence on 
these nations. Lebanon has 4 million people. They are having to care 
for 1 million refugees from Syria--one in four members of their 
  These countries, especially Jordan and Lebanon, are small--much 
smaller than the United States. They are much poorer than the United 
States. Jordan has very little water for their own citizens, much less 
refugees, but they have shown a real sense of compassion and 
hospitality in treating these Syrian refugees who are fleeing violence 
and coming over their border. Lebanese citizens even run double school 
shifts--their own kids in the morning and Syrian refugees in the 
  When I have been in the Middle East in these countries, I have 
wondered what would happen if refugees fleeing violence in other 
countries came to the United States. I wonder if we would show the same 
compassion to refugees that is being shown by these poorer nations.
  I wish to say a few words about the crisis at the border now because 
we are now faced with that question--refugees fleeing violence and 
coming to the United States.
  Who are the children coming to the United States? They are 
overwhelmingly refugees from three Central American countries--52,000 
just this year. They are not just coming to the United States; they are 
also flooding into Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
  Senator Menendez held a hearing this morning, and we had testimony. 
What is the reason they are coming? And the testimony was this: The 
reason they are coming is overwhelmingly the violence in the 
neighborhoods where they live that forces their parents to decide that 
to keep them safe, they should leave.
  What is the source of the violence? Again, overwhelmingly, the 
testimony is that the source of the violence is the drug trade that has 
corrupted the neighborhoods and made them dangerous. The kids are 
fleeing violence driven by the drug trade.
  Here is the sort of sad punch line: Where does the drug trade 
originate? The drug trade is originating because of the significant 
demand in the United States for illegal drugs, especially cocaine.
  So these kids are fleeing to the United States because Americans are 
buying illegal drugs in such numbers and the dollars being shipped 
south are creating conditions for gang warfare and cartels, turning 
these nations into transit points for drugs.
  I know these children, and I know their neighborhoods. I lived in El 
Progreso, Honduras, in 1980 and 1981. Six hundred kids from El Progreso 
have already come to the United States as unaccompanied refugees this 
  Honduras, a beautiful country with beautiful people, a longtime ally 
of the United States, is now the murder capital of the world. There are 
more people murdered in Honduras than in any other country. El Salvador 
is No. 4 in the world, and Guatemala is No. 5 in the world.
  I recently met with President Hernandez of Honduras to talk about 
what we can do. So what should we do? Let's get to the prescription. 
What should we do?
  First, we have to stop blaming the kids or assuming they are bad 
people. They are not. We need to show the same compassion for refugees 
fleeing violence and coming to the United States as nations such as 
Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan show to refugees fleeing violence and 
coming to their nations.
  Secondly, we need to work on our legal process and the resources the 
President asked for. I have some criticisms of exactly how those 
dollars will be spent and the particular protections these refugees 
need when they arrive. Remember, it is a 2008 law we are dealing with 
that was passed unanimously by Congress and signed by President Bush.
  We need to do immigration reform. The fact that we haven't done it 
for so long creates a sense of confusion. If we can clearly elaborate 
what our immigration policy is, it will dispel myths.
  More support for security in Central America is critical. We need to 
interdict more drugs. General Kelly, the head of SOUTHCOM, says we let 
75 percent of the drugs that come into the United States go by us. We 
know where they are, but we haven't put the military resources in place 
to interdict them.

[[Page S4599]]

  Finally, we have to tackle the U.S. demand for drugs because that is 
what is driving the violence in the neighborhoods which is causing kids 
to flee.
  In conclusion, this year is the 75th anniversary of a very shameful 
event--the voyage of the St. Louis. The St. Louis was a ship that left 
Germany in 1939 with hundreds of Jews onboard. These Jews were fleeing 
violence and antisemitism to come to the new world. They were not 
allowed to disembark in Cuba, they were not allowed to disembark in the 
United States, and they were not allowed to disembark in Canada. 
Eventually, the ship had to be routed back to Europe, where, research 
shows, hundreds of those Jews who had to get back off in Europe died in 
the Holocaust.
  The testimony this morning was that if we, without due process, send 
these children home, many will die as a result.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.
  Mr. KAINE. That lesson of the St. Louis should stick with us, and 
there are many things we can do to avert this crisis and to show our 
good hearts as Americans.