July 25, 2014
President Obama’s Full Remarks After Meeting with Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador

This is what the White House released tonight:

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA

AFTER MEETING WITH PRESIDENT PÉREZ MOLINA OF GUATEMALA, PRESIDENT JUAN ORLANDO HERNÁNDEZ OF HONDURAS, AND PRESIDENT SALVADOR SÁNCHEZ CERÉN OF EL SALVADOR ON IMMIGRATION

Cabinet Room

3:42 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I want to thank very much, President Molina, President Hernández and President Sánchez Cerén for being here today.  Our nations share extraordinary ties of culture, of family, of promise that enrich all of us and make our countries stronger.  And we have a wide range of issues that we share and have discussed in the past in various bilateral and multilateral forms.

But today, our focus was on what’s been a significant challenge in the news and, more importantly, a significant challenge for families that have been at risk as a consequence of the rise of unaccompanied children traveling from Central American countries to the U.S. border, leaving their homes in Central America and making a journey that poses great danger to themselves.

All of us recognize that we have a shared responsibility to address this problem.  President Molina hosted Vice President Biden in an earlier meeting to look at specific steps that could be taken to alleviate this challenge.  And today, what I did was share with my counterparts here the efforts that the United States has in our continuing response, including unprecedented numbers of Border Patrol agents and resources at the border, more facilities to properly care for these children that have already arrived, and more resources for our immigration courts to process the claims of these children in a way that’s orderly and timely that protects their due process but also expedites the length of time that it takes to assure that they’ve gotten a fair deal.

Now, I emphasized to all three Presidents that the American people, and my administration, have great compassion for these children and want to make sure that they are cared for the way all children should be cared for.  And we’ve seen an outpouring of generosity from not only families at the borders themselves that are providing assistance — you have nonprofit organizations and churches that are providing assistance — but actually from across the country people have expressed their concern and compassion for these children.

But I also emphasized to my friends here that we have to deter a continuing influx of children putting themselves at great risk and families who are putting their children at great risk.  And so I emphasized that within a legal framework and a humanitarian framework and proper due process, children who do not have proper claims and families with children who do not have proper claims, at some point will be subject to repatriation to their home countries.

I say that not because we lack compassion, but because in addition to being a nation of immigrants we’re also a nation of laws.  And if you have a disorderly and dangerous process of migration, that not only puts the children themselves at risk, but it also calls to question the legal immigration process of those who are properly applying and trying to enter into our country.

Each President here emphasized the degree to which they have already begun to make efforts to discourage this dangerous trafficking in children.  And I want to thank all of them publicly — I already did so privately — for specific efforts that they’re taking in each country to discourage parents from sending their children on this journey, for going after and arresting smugglers in more aggressive fashion, and for working with us on the issue of repatriating the children and families in a safe and humane way.

Initial reports show that our joint efforts appear to be paying off, and the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border this month appears to have dropped by half since June.  Of course, it’s still too high.  And so today we are here to continue to work together.

Finally, even as we meet this immediate situation, we all recognize that we have to do more to address the root causes of the problem, and that includes poverty and violence in Central America.  I discussed this when I met with Central American leaders last year in Costa Rica.  And we are committed to working together in partnership with each of these countries to find ways in which we can come up with more aggressive action plans to improve security and development and governance in these countries.

I expressed again that we have a shared responsibility, for example, when it comes to dealing with drug trafficking, that we are dealing with the demand for drugs in the United States and doing more to stop the cross-border flows of arms, for example, from the north to the south.  And I also continue to emphasize the fact that not just if, but when we pass comprehensive immigration reform in this country, then we will have the capacity not only to strengthen resources at our borders, but we’re also going to have the capacity to create more orderly ways for legal migration, in some cases temporary worker programs that allow people to advance economically; allow our economy to grow, allow families to be reunified; but also, in many cases, a lot of people to return to their families in their home countries.

With respect to the U.S. meeting some of its responsibilities, I briefed my fellow Presidents on the supplemental request that is working its way through Congress.  And I just want to mention that it is my hope that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans will not leave town for the month of August for their vacations without doing something to help solve this problem.

We have a supplemental that provides resources for additional border security, for additional immigration judges, for additional resources to assist our Central American countries in providing facilities, and opportunities, and security needs to deal with the smugglers.  And we need to get that done.  And so there have been a lot of press conferences about this — we need action and less talk.

So let me once again thank President Molina, President Hernández, President Sánchez Cerén.  Each of these leaders have shown great responsiveness and great sincerity in wanting to deal with this situation in a sensible and compassionate way.  I appreciate their efforts.  They all face significant challenges, and the one thing that we I think all recognize is, is that if we are working together in a coordinated fashion, if the United States is listening to the ideas of these Presidents in how they are creating greater opportunities in their country, and also how we can deal with the challenges of the smugglers, I’m confident that we’re going to be able to solve this problem.

So they’ve proven to be excellent partners, and this is a situation where the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts if we’re working together effectively.

So thank you so much, gentlemen, for not only your thoughtful presentations, but also your countries’ cooperation.  It means a lot to me and to the American people.

Q    Mr. President, what about the refugee proposal?

Q    Is the refugee program possible?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Actually, I wasn’t going to take questions, but let me just respond to this particular question because I felt like some of the stories were a little over cranked.  And as I explained to my fellow Presidents, under U.S. law, we admit a certain number of refugees from all around the world based on some fairly narrow criteria.  And typically, refugee status is not granted just based on economic need or because a family lives in a bad neighborhood or poverty.  It’s typically defined fairly narrowly — the state, for example, that was targeting political activists and they need to get out of the country for fear of prosecution or even death.

There may be some narrow circumstances in which there is a humanitarian or a refugee status that a family might be eligible for.  If that were the case, it would be better for them to be able to apply in-country rather than take a very dangerous journey all the way up to Texas to make those same claims.  But I think it’s important to recognize that that would not necessarily accommodate a large number of additional migrants.

What’s more important is going to be for us to be able to find the kinds of solutions, both short-term and long-term, that prevents smugglers from making money on families that feel desperate; that ensure that we’re creating greater security for families in Central America, and that we are helping to grow opportunity long-term in Central America and in the kind of legal immigration system that makes this underground migration system less necessary.  And that’s what I’m going to be committed to doing.

Q    Will you accept less money from the supplemental, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I said one question, Jeff.  Well, we are going to continue to work in consultation with Central American countries to find additional creative and sensible ways in which legal claims for migration can be processed in those countries in a fair and just way.

All right, you guys got some bonus coverage there.  (Laughter.)

END 4:00 P.M. EDT



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July 25, 2014
President Obama’s Full Remarks After Meeting with Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador

This is what the White House released tonight:

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA

AFTER MEETING WITH PRESIDENT PÉREZ MOLINA OF GUATEMALA, PRESIDENT JUAN ORLANDO HERNÁNDEZ OF HONDURAS, AND PRESIDENT SALVADOR SÁNCHEZ CERÉN OF EL SALVADOR ON IMMIGRATION

Cabinet Room

3:42 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I want to thank very much, President Molina, President Hernández and President Sánchez Cerén for being…

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July 25, 2014
Obama to Central American Presidents: US Has ‘Great Compassion’ But ‘We Have to Deter a Continuing Influx of Children’

According to the White House pool report we received this afternoon about the meeting President Obama had with the leaders of the three Central American countries most impacted by the latest immigration crisis, this is what the President told Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina, Honduras’ Juan Orlando Hernández and El Salvador’s Salvador Sánchez Cerén:

US-WhiteHouse-Logo

“Children who do not have proper claims…will at some point be subject to repatriation to their home countries,” Obama said.

He said they agree on need to address poverty and violence in Central America.

“I emphasized that the American people and my administration have great compassion for these children…but I also emphasized to my friends that we have to deter a continuing influx of children putting themselves at risk.”

These quote was shared by Todd Gillman of the The Dallas Morning News. Gillman was the pool reporter for today’s White House meeting.



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July 25, 2014
Obama to Central American Presidents: US Has ‘Great Compassion’ But ‘We Have to Deter a Continuing Influx of Children’

According to the White House pool report we received this afternoon about the meeting President Obama had with the leaders of the three Central American countries most impacted by the latest immigration crisis, this is what the President told Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina, Honduras’ Juan Orlando Hernández and El Salvador’s Salvador Sánchez Cerén:

US-WhiteHouse-Logo

“Children who do not have proper claims…will at…

View On WordPress

July 25, 2014
Today in History: The Tragedy of Cerro Maravilla (VIDEO)

July 25, 1978 will forever be seen as a tragedy in the history of Puerto Rico.

Cerro Maravilla.

El_Vocero_1978_July_25_Cerro_Maravilla

Very little exists in English about what happened that day, but the following ’60 Minutes’ report from around that time shares a lot. The quality of the videos is not the greatest, but the report speaks for itself.

There is also this story from 2003:

SAN JUAN – Former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo acknowledged that it was an error of judgment to have referred to the police officers who executed two independence activists on Cerro Maravilla more than 25 years ago as heroes.

Romero Barcelo said in a radio interview that it “was a premature declaration” and when asked if it were an error of judgment he replied, “Yes.”

The two young activists, along with an undercover police officer, took a taxi driver hostage on July 25, 1978, and ordered him to the hill known as Cerro Maravilla, where they planned to set afire a TV tower in protest. But the undercover officer alerted other police, who ambushed and shot Arnaldo Dario Rosado, 24, and Carlos Soto Arrivi, 18.

Courts later convicted 10 officers of perjury and four of second-degree murder in a case which became known as Puerto Rico’s Watergate. The four convicted on the murder charge remain incarcerated but could be eligible for parole starting in 2006.

The date of the killings coincided with the 24th anniversary of Puerto Rico’s commonwealth relationship with the United States. Then-Gov. Romero delivered a speech days later when he called the police heroes. A journalist, who covered the executions and subsequent Senate hearings throughout the 1980s and early 1990s and has written two books on the scandal, said the remarks were the first Romero had made acknowledging it was a mistake.

“It took him 25 years to say it was an error,” said Manny Suarez, a 73-year-old reporter at The San Juan Star.

One obscure book written in English speaks to the cover-up, as well as this book.

So while July 25 is officially known as Constitution Day in Puerto Rico, many Puerto Ricans also remember Cerro Maravilla.



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