Sonia Nazario

  • Aired:  07/28/14
  •  | Views: 14,893

"Enrique's Journey" author Sonia Nazario discusses the hold drug cartels have over Central America and the dangerous conditions facing children hoping to escape to the U.S. (7:10)

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT, SHE IS THEPULITZER PRIZE WINNING AUTHOR OF

"ENRIQUE'S JOURNEY, THE STORYOF A BOY'S DANGEROUS ODYSSEY TO

REUNITE WITH HIS MOTHER."

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAMSONIA NAZARIO.

HELLO.

NICE SEE YOU.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: OBVIOUSLY WE'D LOVE TOSAY THAT THIS SITUATION HAS

GOTTEN BETTER SINCE THE TIME OFTHIS VERY ACCLAIMED "ENRIQUE'S

JOURNEY."

WHEN, WHEN DID YOU, DID YOUWRITE THIS, ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO?

>> YEAH, I WENT TO HONDURAS 13AND TEN YEARS AGO...

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> AND WAS WRITING ABOUT, YOUKNOW, THESE WOMEN WHO COME HERE,

SINGLE MOTHERS, LEAVE THEIRCHILDREN BEHIND IN

CENTRAL AMERICA, MEXICO, AND THECHILDREN WHO FOLLOW THEM AND

MAKE THIS MODERN-DAY ODYSSEY ONTOP OF FREIGHT TRAINS TO COME

SEARCHING FOR THEIRMOTHERS.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> AND I WROTE ABOUT IT THROUGHTHE STORY OF ONE BOY WHO DOES

THIS. HE DOESN'T SEE HIS MOM FOR11 YEARS. SHE LEAVE HIM WHEN

HE'S FIVE YEARS OLD.>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> AND AFTER 11 YEARS HE'SDESPERATE TO BE WITH HER, AND HE

MAKES THIS INCREDIBLE JOURNEY ONTOP OF FREIGHT TRAINS.

>> Jon: DANGER AND FILLEDWITH BEATINGS AND VIOLENCE AND

ALL KINDS OF TERRIBLE THINGSHAPPEN TO THESE KIDS AS THEY'RE

MAKING THIS JOURNEY.

>> YEAH, INCREDIBLE DANGER.

I, I DID THE JOURNEY FOR THREEMONTHS ON TOP OF FREIGHT

TRAINS TO WRITE ABOUT WHATTHIS IS LIKE. AND THEY FACE

BANDITS ALONGSIDE THERAILS, GANGS THAT I WOULD SEE

CONTROLLING THE TRAIN TOPS,ROAMING FROM CAR TO CAR...

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> RAPING, KILLING THESECHILDREN.

>> Jon: TERRIBLE.

>> I RODE WITH A 12-YEAR-OLDBOY. THERE WERE

7-YEAR-OLD BOYS MAKING THISJOURNEY ALONE ACROSS

FOUR COUNTRIES COMING IN SEARCHOF THEIR PARENTS.

>> Jon: AND THIS, FOR THE MOSTPART BACK THEN, THE ISSUE WAS

POVERTY.

>> POVERTY AND REUNITING WITHTHE PARENT.

>> Jon: AND REUNITING WITH THEPARENT...

>> YES.

>> Jon: BUT THE PARENT HADGONE FOR POVERTY.

HOW HAS THE CONDITION CHANGED INHONDURAS NOW?

>> WELL, SO I WENT BACK TOHONDURAS...

>> Jon: YEAH.

>> TO THIS BOY'SNEIGHBORHOOD LAST MONTH...

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> AND I WAS JUST SHOCKED BYTHE CHANGE THAT I SAW, ENORMOUS

GROWTH IN VIOLENCE BECAUSE,YOU KNOW, THERE WERE GANGS BACK

THEN, BUT NOW IN THE LAST FEWYEARS, THESE NARCO CARTELS,

WE'VE, WE STOPPED THE FLOW OFCOCAINE FROM COLOMBIA UP THE

CARIBBEAN TO THE UNITED STATES.WE SPENT $8 BILLION TO DO THAT,

BUT IT SIMPLY REROUTEDINLAND TO HONDURAS.

SO ALL THESE COCAINE FLIGHTSGOING TO THE U.S. LAND THERE,

AND THESE NARCO CARTELS, MOSTLYMEXICAN, ARE REALLY FIGHTING FOR

CONTROL OVER THIS TURF.

AND THESE CHILDREN HAVE BECOMETHEIR FOOT SOLDIERS.

>>Jon: RIGHT.

>> SO THEY'RE TRYING TO RECRUITTHESE CHILDREN AT A VERY YOUNG

AGE TO USE DRUGS, DISTRIBUTEDRUGS, SERVE AS LOOKOUTS AND

ULTIMATELY SERVE AS HITMEN FORTHESE CARTELS.

SO THEY HAD A GRIP ON HISNEIGHBORHOOD NOW, AND CHILDREN

LIVING IN JUST ENORMOUS FEAR,HAD BEEN THREATENED MULTIPLE

TIMES BY THE TIME THEY WERE 11YEARS OLD.

>> Jon: AND NOW THESE KIDS,SO, SO THIS IS THE SITUATION

WE'RE IN NOW WITH 40,000 KIDS,45,000 KIDS THAT HAVE COME UP

FROM CENTRAL AMERICA, WHICH HAS

BEEN INUNDATED WITH THESE TURFWARS, THESE DRUG TURF WARS.

>> RIGHT.

>> Jon: AND THEY GET TO OURBORDER, AND WE DO WHAT?

>> WELL, I THINK WE NEED TO SEETHESE CHILDREN FOR WHAT THEY

ARE.

THEY ARE REFUGEES.

THEY ARE FLEEING... AN IMMIGRANTWHO COMES HERE FOR ECONOMIC

REASONS, FOR A BETTER LIFE...>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> I UNDERSTAND THE IMPULSE TODEPORT THAT PERSON.

I'M NOT AN OPEN-BORDERS GAL, BUTTHESE CHILDREN, AND I TALKED TO

AN 11-YEAR-OLD BOY WHO SAID, YOUKNOW, THEY ARE BEATING ME IN MY

SCHOOL TRYING TO FORCE ME TO USEDRUGS.

I KNOW THREE PEOPLE WHO HAVEBEEN KILLED THIS YEAR.

MY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, THESE12-YEAR-OLD NARCOS SHOW UP AND

THEY SAY, ALL OF THESE KIDS HAVETO GO WITH ME, THESE

TEN-YEAR-OLDS, TO DISTRIBUTECRACK IN MY SCHOOL.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> SO THESE CHILDREN ARE FLEEINGFOR THEIR LIVES, AND I THINK

IT'S REALLY AN EXTRAORDINARYMOMENT FOR US TO STAND UP AND DO

THE RIGHT THING FOR THESECHILDREN.

>> Jon: AND WHY IS IT SO HARD TODO THAT? YOU KNOW, IT'S...

[APPLAUSE]YOU KNOW, YOU SEE THESE

IMMIGRANTS, I, I, THIS IS,YOU KNOW, MAY BE A BIT OF

A RIGHT TURN, BUT I SPENTA LITTLE BIT OF TIME IN

JORDAN LAST SUMMER. THIS IS ACOUNTRY WITH IT MUST

HAVE BEEN SIX MILLIONPEOPLE IN IT.

>> RIGHT.

>> Jon: THEY HAVE VERY LITTLE INTERMS OF RESOURCES, WATER, OIL,

THEY DON'T HAVE IN THAT COUNTRY.

REFUGEES ARE POURING IN BY THEHUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS FROM

SYRIA, FROM IRAQ, AND THEY DOEVERYTHING IN THEIR POWER TO

GIVE THOSE PEOPLE REFUGE ANDASYLUM.

>> AND WE TELL THEM TO.

>> Jon: AND WHY, AND WE LINE UPAT THE BORDER AND YELL AT THEM.

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

>> Jon: SO IT'S, I THINK IT'SEMBARRASSING FOR OUR COUNTRY.

>> IT IS EMBARRASSING. I MEAN,

I THINK REPUBLICANS HAVE USEDTHESE SIX YEAR OLDS AS PUNCHING

BAGS AHEAD OF THE PRIMARYPLAYING TO THEIR BASE, SAYING

THAT THESE KIDS ARE CRIMINALSAND THEY'RE CARRYING EBOLA.

AND THEY'RE SIMPLY PLAYING TOTHE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR,

THESE ANTI-IMMIGRANT FEELINGS,AND PRESIDENT OBAMA, INSTEAD OF

SAYING, LET'S GIVE THESE KIDS AREAL DUE PROCESS, LET'S LET THEM

GO TO COURT AND SEE IF THEY'REREFUGEES.

>> Jon: RIGHT. WHICH IS THE LAW,BY THE WAY, THE 2008 LAW THAT...

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

>> Jon: PRESIDENT BUSH SIGNEDWAS THAT IF YOU COME FROM

CENTRAL AMERICA AND YOU'RESEEKING ASYLUM, YOU ARE, YOU ARE

OWED DUE PROCESS.

>> AND SHAME ON HIM FOR TRYINGTO CHANGE THAT LAW.

BECAUSE HE'S TRYING EXPEDITETHEIR REMOVAL.

>> Jon: PRESIDENT OBAMA?

>> PRESIDENT OBAMA WANTS TOCHANGE THAT LAW SO THESE KIDS

ARE NOT GIVEN THEIR FAIR DAY INCOURT WHERE THEY CAN ARGUE

WHETHER THEY'RE REFUGEES OR NOT.>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> THEY NEED TO BE GIVEN AFULL, FAIR HEARING WITH AN

ATTORNEY BY THEIRSIDE. BECAUSE I'VE SEEN IN THESE

COURTROOMS, YOU KNOW, WEALLOW MURDERERS IN THIS COUNTRY,

WE PROVIDE THEM WITH A PUBLICDEFENDER.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> BUT AN IMMIGRANT CHILD IS NOTPROVIDED WITH THAT.

AND SO MANY OF THEM CAN'T AFFORDAN ATTORNEY.

>> Jon: WHAT DOES A SIX YEAROLD WHO ONLY SPEAKS SPANISH NEED

WITH AN ATTORNEY?

I'M SURE OUR COURT SYSTEM WILLSORT IT ALL OUT.

>> YEAH. I'M SURE THEY CAN, THEYCAN PRESENT A COMPLEX

IMMIGRATION CASEALL BY THEMSELVES.

RIGHT?

NO PROBLEM.

>> Jon: IS THERE, IS THERE AHUMANITARIAN MOMENTUM BUILDING

TO BEGIN TO STATES SAYING,LOOK, WE'LL STEP IN, WE

WILL HOUSE THEM OR AT LEAST GIVETHEM REASONABLE

LIVING CONDITIONS UNTIL THISCAN BE SORTED OUT?

>> YOU KNOW, I THINK I'VE SEENTHE GRASSROOTS, MANY

ACTUALLY CHRISTIAN, EVANGELICAL,BAPTIST GROUPS...

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> THAT HAVE REALLY STOOD UP ANDSAID, WE CAN HELP

THESE CHILDREN IN THESEDETENTION FACILITIES.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> WE WANT TO DO THE RIGHTTHING.

BUT I THINK ON A POLITICALLEVEL, THESE CHILDREN ARE BEING

USED AS FOOTBALLS AND MANYPEOPLE ARE SAYING, HOW FAST CAN

WE GET RID OF THEM.

AND THE PRESIDENT IS TRYING TOPUSH MEXICO AND GUATEMALA TO

STOP THESE CHILDREN, TOBASICALLY SEAL THEM INTO THESE

COUNTRIES WHERE MANY OFTHESE CHILDREN FACE DEATH.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> IT'S A SERIOUS ISSUE WITHTHESE CHILDREN.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> THEY HAVE BEEN THREATENEDMULTIPLE TIMES.

AND I THINK THAT WE NEED TO SEETHESE CHILDREN NOT AS AN

IMMIGRATION ISSUE, BUT AS AREFUGEE ISSUE,

>> Jon: REFUGEE ISSUE, YEAH.

>> LIKE WE DID WITH CUBANS, LIKEWE HAVE WITH HAITIANS.

THERE HAVE BEEN EXTRAORDINARYMOMENTS IN OUR HISTORY WHERE WE

HAVE STOOD UP AND SAID, WE NEEDTO DO THE RIGHT THING.

THAT'S WHAT WE NEED TO DO WITHTHESE KIDS.

>> Jon: RIGHT. THE RIGHT THING.

THE RIGHT THING.

WE HAVEN'T DONE THAT IN A WHILE,HAVE WE?

"ENRIQUE'S JOURNEY" IT'S ON THEBOOKSHELVES NOW.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEINGHERE.

SONIA NAZARIO.>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: THANK YOU SO MUCH.

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