Making peace real in Guatemala City

Friends,

You’ve no doubt heard and read stories about the soaring numbers of unaccompanied children migrating into the U.S.—in the past month, government representatives have been grappling to handle this humanitarian crisis, and mainstream media has struggled to report on it. As a supporter of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), you also know that this heartbreaking crisis is nothing new.

For decades, the United States’ economic and political relations with Central America and its immigration policies have restricted migration and criminalized people who cross borders. At the same time, the federal government has encouraged an easy flow of goods and money into the U.S. that benefits the economy here and disadvantages people in Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, and elsewhere.

AFSC staff in the Southwest and around the country work every day with people who experience the worst of the haphazard collection of federal laws that constitute U.S. immigration policy. They work with children who have crossed borders to reunite with their families and to escape violence—and who, upon arrival, have been greeted not with open arms but by border patrol agents who send them back or to detention centers to await deportation hearings.

While advocating for an end to the detention and deportation pipeline in the U.S., AFSC is also working to address the economic and social conditions that force people to leave their homes and families in search of a better life. We carry out this work through policy discussions in Washington, D.C., through education and advocacy programs across the U.S., and through our program in Guatemala.

Take a look here to see how, with AFSC’s support, a citywide network of young peace-builders is opening the way to increased safety in Guatemala City. They are making peace visible in the streets and helping public agencies understand what justice means for the city’s neighborhoods. Amid injustices that have led to widespread economic hardship and gang violence, the dedication of these young people to mobilizing neighbors is inspiring. I hope you will share this infographic with your networks and invite them to see the change that is possible when young people are heard and supported.

There are no easy solutions to the crisis at the border or to the many factors driving children to flee Central America. But if young people in some of Guatemala City’s toughest neighborhoods have the resilience to create the peace in their world, imagine what we can do in here in the U.S. I urge you to follow their example and speak to your neighbors and elected representatives about what peace and justice looks like for everyone in our communities, including immigrants. Help us build welcoming, peaceful communities around the world.

Thank you for your support.

In peace,

Shan Cretin