The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

Author:Kamala Harris
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2019-01-07T16:00:00+00:00


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There’s a region in Central America known as the Northern Triangle, which includes three countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Together these countries have the menacing distinction of being among the most violent in the world. Between 1979 and 1992, El Salvador was undone by civil war that left as many as 75,000 dead. Between 1960 and 1996, Guatemala’s civil war resulted in the deaths of 200,000 civilians. Honduras didn’t have a civil war of its own, but the violence in neighboring countries bled across its borders and made it, too, one of the world’s most dangerous places to live.

Even after the wars ended, the violence didn’t. A broken economy with deep poverty and few jobs, awash in weapons and generational destruction, led to the formation of organized criminal organizations that used murder, rape, and other sexual violence to control territory and take over large swaths of the region. In the years since, more people have been killed and kidnapped in the Northern Triangle than in some of the world’s most brutal wars. Between 2011 and 2014, nearly fifty thousand people were murdered in the Northern Triangle, and just 5 percent of the deaths resulted in judicial convictions.

For residents of these countries, life is often defined by terror. Gang violence, drug trafficking, and corruption are rampant. The largest and most notorious of these transnational criminal organizations, MS-13 and the Mara 18, are reported to include as many as 85,000 members worldwide. They extort small business owners and residents in poor neighborhoods into paying hundreds of millions of dollars each and every year. Those who don’t pay risk death, for them and their families. The gangs recruit young men to join their ranks through threats and intimidation, and they force teenage girls to endure sexual violence as so-called gang girlfriends.

Indeed, for women and girls in these countries, violence is systemic. In July 2014, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women reported that violent deaths of women in Honduras had risen by 263.4 percent between 2005 and 2013. There are stories of children being robbed, raped, murdered—including an eleven-year-old girl in Honduras whose killers slashed her throat and stuffed her underwear in it. If there was a ground zero for brutality and bleakness, the Northern Triangle would be it.

The only option is escape. And so hundreds of thousands of people have fled the region into neighboring countries and up through Mexico to the United States. In the past, we have welcomed asylum seekers in accordance with international law, granting them special protected status because of the severity of the hardships they face. Sometimes they come as families. But all too often, the journey is impossible to afford, leaving parents with an excruciating choice: Do they keep their children close but in the midst of mortal peril, or do they send them to the United States, knowing that if they survive the perilous journey they will have a chance to be safe and free?

In the summer of



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