Exclusive - Sonia Nazario Extended Interview

  • Aired:  07/28/14
  •  | Views: 6,112

Sonia Nazario describes the treacherous journey facing child refugees fleeing violence and poverty in Central America, which is the subject of her book "Enrique's Journey." (7:13)

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

MY GUEST TONIGHT, SHE IS APULITZER 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 WRITE THIS,ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO?

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

>> Jon: RIGHT.>> AND WAS WRITING ABOUT,

YOU KNOW, THESE WOMEN WHO COMEHERE, SINGLE MOTHERS, LEAVE

THEIR CHILDREN BEHIND IN CENTRALAMERICA, MEXICO, AND THE

CHILDREN WHO FOLLOW THEM ANDMAKE THIS MODERN-DAY ODYSSEY ON

TOP OF FREIGHT TRAINS TO COMESEARCHING FOR THEIR MOTHERS.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

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

DOES THIS. HE DOESN'T SEEHIS MOM FOR 11 YEARS.

SHE LEAVES HIM WHEN HE'S FIVEYEARS OLD.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

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

MAKES THIS INCREDIBLE JOURNEY ONTOP OF FREIGHT TRAINS.

>> Jon: DANGERAND FILLEDWITH BEATINGS AND VIOLENCE AND

ALL KINDS OF TERRIBLE THINGSHAPPEN TO THESE KIDS AS

THEY'RE MAKING THIS JOURNEY.

>> YEAH, INCREDIBLE DANGER.

I DID THE JOURNEY FOR THREEMONTHS ON TOP OF FREIGHT TRAINS

TO WRITE ABOUT WHAT THIS ISLIKE. AND THEY FACE BANDITS

ALONGSIDE THE RAILS, GANGSTHAT I WOULD SEE CONTROLLING

THE TRAIN TOPS, ROAMINGFROM CAR TO CAR...

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> RAPING, KILLING THESECHILDREN.

>> Jon: TERRIBLE.

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

THERE WERE 7-YEAR-OLD BOYSMAKING THIS JOURNEY 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 PARENTS. YES.

>> Jon: AND REUNITING WITH THEPARENT, BUT THE PARENT HAD GONE

FOR POVERTY.

HOW HAS THE CONDITION CHANGED INHONDURAS NOW IN?

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

>> Jon: YEAH.

>> TO THIS BOY'S NEIGHBORHOODLAST MONTH...

>> Jon: RIGHT.

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

GROWTH IN VIOLENCE BECAUSE, YOUKNOW, 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 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

AGES TO USE DRUGS, DISTRIBUTEDRUGS, SERVE AS LOOKOUTS AND

ULTIMATELY SERVE AS HITMEN FORTHESE CARTELS.

SO THEY HAD A GRIP ON HISNEIGHBORHOOD NOW...

>> Jon: RIGHT.>> ON CHILDREN LIVING

IN JUST ENORMOUS FEAR, HAD BEENTHREATENED MULTIPLE TIMES BY THE

TIME THEY WERE 11 YEARS OLD.

>> AND NOW THESE KIDS, SO, SOTHIS IS THE SITUATION WE'RE IN

NOW WITH, YOU KNOW, 40,000 KIDS,45,000 KIDS THAT HAVE COME UP

FROM CENTRAL AMERICA, WHICH HASBEEN INUNDATED WITH THESE TURF

WARS, 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...>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> FOR A BETTER LIFE, IUNDERSTAND THE IMPULSE TO DEPORT

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?

[APPLAUSE]YOU KNOW, IT'S, YOU KNOW, YOU

SEE THESE IMMIGRANTS, YOUKNOW, MAY BE A BIT OF A RIGHT

TURN, BUT I SPENT A LITTLE BITOF TIME IN JORDAN LAST SUMMER.

THIS IS A COUNTRY WITH IT MUSTHAVE BEEN SIX MILLION PEOPLE 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. AND...

>> Jon: SO 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

PRESIDENT BUSH SIGNED...>> THAT'S RIGHT.

>> Jon: WAS THAT IF YOU COMEFROM CENTRAL AMERICA AND YOU'RE

SEEKING ASYLUM, YOU ARE, YOU AREOWED DUE PROCESS.

>> AND SHAME ON HIM FOR TRYINGCHANGE 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 A FULL,FAIR HEARING WITH AN ATTORNEY ON

THEIR SIDE. BECAUSE I'VE SEEN INTHESE COURTROOMS, YOU KNOW,

WE, WE ALLOW MURDERERS INTHIS COUNTRY,

WE PROVIDE THEM WITH A PUBLICDEFENDER...

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> BUT AN IMMIGRANT CHILD IS NOTPROVIDED WITH THAT.

SO MANY OF THEM CAN'T AFFORD ANATTORNEY.

>> 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 AHUMANITARIAN MOMENTUM BUILDING

TO BEGIN TO, STATES SAYING LOOKWE'LL STEP IN, WE WILL HOUSE

THEM OR AT LEAST GIVE THEMREASONABLE

LIVING CONDITIONS UNTIL THIS CANBE 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 POLITICAL LEVEL,THESE CHILDREN ARE BEING USED AS

FOOTBALLS AND MANY PEOPLE ARESAYING, HOW FAST CAN WE GET RID

OF THEM. AND THEPRESIDENT IS TRYING TO PUSH

MEXICO AND GUATEMALATO STOP THESE CHILDREN,

TO BASICALLY SEAL THEMINTO THESE COUNTRIES

WHERE MANY OF THESE CHILDRENFACE 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.

AND THAT'S WHAT WE NEED TO DOWITH THESE 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.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: SONIA NAZARIO...>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: THANK YOU SOMUCH.

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