To The Point

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More children than ever before are trying to cross the US-Mexico border, to escape violence back home, especially in Central America.

While the number of illegal bordering crossings is at a 40-year low, there has been a dramatic surge in the number of children being stopped by Border Patrol along the US Mexico border.

In fact, government officials estimate that in fiscal year 2014, which ends in Setpember, at least 60,000 children will be apprehended as they try to enter the country illegally. That’s 10 times the number of children stopped only three years ago.

Most of the children are from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Most are fleeing the increasing gang violence and poverty that is plaguing their communities. Most are trying to reunite with a parent or a family member in the US.

Sonia Nazario is familiar with these stories. Her 2006 book, “Enrique’s Story,” which was based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning series Nazario wrote for the Los Angeles Times, was recently updated. It tells the story of Enrique, a Honduran boy who makes the dangerous trek alone to reunite with his mother in the US. “Many of these kids have no money to take this journey, so they do it the only way they can, which is gripping for dear life to the tops and sides of these freight trains travelling up the length of Mexico,” Nazario says. 

Nazario says jumping on and off those box cars isn’t the only dangerous part of these sorts of journeys. The Mexican drug cartels often control the tops of these trains, where the children ride. “They’re kidnapping 18,000 Central Americans every year, making their way north through Mexico and they prefer children,” Nozario explains. “These kids are carrying the number of a relative in the US and they can extort these relatives for money, for $3000 to $5000. And if you don’t pay, they’ll kill the children.”

Nazario says the trauma doesn’t stop there for many of the children — the ones who get caught. Once stopped by Border Patrol, the children areed in a detention center and, ultimately, must stand before an immigration judge.

Nazario recalls seeing a 3-year-old, clutching a teddy bear, standing before a judge without even a lawyer at the toddler’s side. Nazario is on the board of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a non-profit organization that has created a network of more 6000 lawyers who represent these children pro-bono.

KIND President Wendy Young says something must be done policy wise that recognizes these children as “Children first. Immigrants second”

Soylent is a new Silicon Valley food replacement. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t taste good. Here, Warren Olney interviews Brian Merchant, senior editor of Motherboard, who lived on it for 30 days.

Today’s To the Point:

Last night, the Obama White House announced that the US would provide direct military aid to some of the Syrian rebels, because the al-Assad government crossed that “Red Line” by using chemical weapons. There won’t be boots on the ground. So far, it’s small arms and ammunition. Is a wider war possible? Is it too late for diplomacy? We hear about the available options and possible outcomes, including spillover into the rest of the Middle East.

A good backgrounder on Palestinian politics… can John Kerry really reinvigorate the peace process?

"Is it only white males who can be mentally ill? Can’t we consider the possibility that these suspects might be mentally ill? I don’t want to stigmatize mentally ill people, but that that’s a possibility here - it just hasn’t been considered, and we have rushed to the conclusion that because of a particular ancestry, that they must be terrorists." - Ali Abunimah

"Muslims are the primary victims of Al Qaeda-inspired terrorism. If there was anyone - if there was any community with the incentive to end this problem, as much as it can, it would be the Muslim-American community." - Dalia Mogahed

"We don’t profile all white males. We don’t expect all 20-something white males to be apologetic and to denounce the actions of other white males. We allow them their individuality." - Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah is co-founder of the website Electronic Intifada, which publishes news and commentary on Middle East issues. He wrote a column on the site criticizing President Obama and others for calling the Boston bombing terrorism just because the suspects are Muslim. 

Dalia Mogahed is CEO of Mogahed Consulting and co-author of Who Speaks for Islam?

Both of them talked about the Boston bombings and being Muslim in America on today’s “To the Point.”

America’s 43rd President now has the country’s 13th presidential library. The George W. Bush Presidential Centerhouses the bullhorn from Ground Zero, the pistol from Saddam Hussein’s spider hole and a statue of two favorite dogs. How much is there on missing weapons of mass destruction or Wall Street bailouts? Do Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld or Karl Rove get much attention? Every president since FDR has a similar mix of historical fact and self-serving propaganda assembled on his behalf. We look at the contents, the architecture and the symbolism of Bush’s Center in Dallas and at the role of presidential libraries in our political life.  

The detainees, after years of being quiet and waiting for the process to work itself out, with the Obama administration and so-forth, have come to realize that the process is jammed-up.

- Charlie Savage, Washington correspondent for the New York Times, on hunger strikes in Camp 6 at Guantanamo Bay Prison

"The point really is not whether you keep Guantanamo [Prison] open or keep it closed. The point is what you do with those you have there."

- President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a research institute focusing on terrorism that was created in the wake of the attacks on September 11.

Today’s To the Point on hunger strikes at Guantanamo Prison. 

Dramatic and tragic events continue to unfold in Boston last night and today. The FBI identified the two suspected Boston marathon bombers after they robbed a Seven Eleven store in Watertown, a Boston suburb. That led to a deadly gun battle, which left one of the suspects dead. The city is locked down and an enormous manhunt is underway for the second. Who are Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the two brothers believed to be Suspect 1 and Suspect 2? Does their Chechen background help explain their actions?

politico:

President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address was most liberal speech he has delivered as president — a blunt summons to wage to war on poverty, defend entitlements for the middle class, end “perpetual war” overseas and move past the calibrated progressive agenda of his first term.

Gone…

We’ll have more Glenn Thrush on today’s To the Point, too!