History professor speaks at State Capitol in support of refugee children

UC Santa Cruz Professor of History Dana Frank

UC Santa Cruz Professor of History Dana Frank testified yesterday in Sacramento to support a California State Assembly resolution on the treatment of refugees from Central America.

Frank spoke in favor of House Resolution 51, which was passed by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a near unanimous bi-partisan vote.

The resolution calls for the humane treatment of migrant children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador who are coming to the U.S. border without their parents, fleeing from extreme violence, sexual assault, and political corruption to seek refuge in California.

“These children are not running toward the United States to gain some mythical American Dream,” said Frank. “They are fleeing terrifying and proliferating violence, gangs, and poverty, and, I would like to underscore here, state-sponsored terror.”

"We need to honor our country's long commitment to welcoming refugees, immigrants, and victims seeking asylum, and be sure the children are provided with legal counsel, full due process, and love, rather than treating them as cattle or dangerous alien invaders," Frank added.

"It was chilling at the hearing to hear anti-immigrant protesters from Murietta attack the Assembly members personally, using arguments made up out of whole cloth." 

Frank’s appearance before the State Assembly comes almost exactly one year after she testified in Congress before the Human Rights Commission in the U.S. House of Representatives about human rights and U.S. policy in Honduras.

At that 2013 hearing in Washington D.C., Frank noted that Honduras had the highest homicide rate in the world with 86 murders per 100,000 residents. She observed that the country had experienced severe human rights challenges since the June 2009 military coup, and questioned U.S. policy supporting a corrupt and violent Honduran government.   

At yesterday’s hearing, Frank told the State Assembly that continued U.S. government support of corruption and violence is a source of the current humanitarian crisis at the border.

"The U.S bears responsibility, in part, for this crisis,” said Frank. “We continue to fund police and military forces in Honduras who are themselves committing terrifying human rights abuses, and not being prosecuted." 

As Frank noted yesterday in the closing statement of her testimony in support of the resolution:

“In the past month I have been horrified to watch our government pack terrorized little children onto planes and deport them to Honduras, into the arms of the very demons of their nightmares. But I am proud, today, as a Californian, to see my own state government stand up so forthrightly in support of those scared kids, and defend them against those who would commit further horrors against them, on either side of the border.”