Child Star Seeks Refuge
18,000 try each year – but most are sent back
The acclaimed documentary film, Which Way Home drew widespread attention to the dangers confronting children who attempt to get to the United States by hitching rides on freight trains through Mexico – hazards including assault and rape, as well as traumatic amputation and death. Directed by Rebecca Cammisa, the film won an Emmy, and was nominated for an Oscar.
…. .The film’s “star,” Kevin Casasola, an engaging 14-year-old at the time, was captured by border agents, and deported back to Honduras. Recently, however, as reported by Julia Preston in the New York Times of February 21, Kevin risked the two-month journey again – with the same result: capture and detention. But this time, with help from Raed Gonzalez, an attorney recruited by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, he applied for and was granted asylum. Thumbs up for Kevin, but it’s important for readers to know that his case is an exception. As Preston notes, “Border Patrol figures show that agents detained about 18,000 unaccompanied children crossing illegally into the United States in 2009. Most were sent back. Mr. Gonzalez said successful asylum claims like Kevin Casasola’s were rare.” (Kevin at left in top photo from Which Way Home; the bottom photo is from USCRI.)