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Fri Jul 4, 2014, 02:10 AM

Commentary: Blame U.S. policies for influx of Guatemalan migrants

Commentary: Blame U.S. policies for influx of Guatemalan migrants
Posted: 5:21 p.m. Thursday, July 3, 2014

For once the Republicans got it right. But not in the way they think. Indeed, President Barack Obama carries the representative blame for the debacle (including reports of abuse) of largely Guatemalan migrant children currently overflowing shelters at the border. But the guilt is much broader, ranging from successive administrations all the way down to us, as American taxpayers.

Decades of U.S. policy in Guatemala have turned the country into a land of wreck and ruin. That’s the reason migrants are coming. Harsh immigration enforcement policies add insult to injury as we punish Guatemalans when they get here when we should be paying them massive reparations.

It is indisputable that the U.S. shares significant guilt for the genocide of mainly indigenous Mayan groups who comprise a majority of the (at least) 150,000 killed in the 1980s alone. A 1999 U.N. Truth Commission blamed Guatemalan state forces for 93 percent of the atrocities. That year, former President Bill Clinton’s official apology for supporting the violence for so long indicates a conscious culpability that endures to this day.

The problem is, we’re in denial as a nation over what to do about it.

Just ask Clinton. The day of his apology in Guatemala City, he looked genocide survivors in the face, voiced regret for the U.S. enabling their suffering, and then rejected their impassioned pleas for U.S. immigration reform because, he said, “we must enforce our laws.”


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