Sonia Nazario Recognized as 2015 Champion for Children
The First Focus Campaign for Children is proud to announce Sonia Nazario as a 2015 Champion for Children. In the past the Campaign has recognized members of Congress, journalists, and other stakeholders who stand out as strong voices for children in Washington and across the country. Nazario is well deserving of this honor due to her steadfast dedication to reporting the stories of migrant children.
While Nazario is known primarily for her award winning work on the newspaper series “Orphans of Addiction” and her series on “Enrique’s Journey”, which was eventually expanded into a bestselling book, the First Focus Campaign for Children was particularly impressed by her efforts to defend the thousands of migrant children who arrived at the border this past summer. Nazario knows firsthand the perilous journeys many of these children face to escape violence, poverty, and abuse. In the case of Enrique, he was 16 years old when he made the dangerous journey from Honduras to the U.S. to reunite with his mother, who he had not seen in over a decade. When the number of child migrants soared last year, Nazario returned to Honduras to bear witness to the increase in violence forcing children to flee. She documented her findings in a New York Times piece entitled “Children of the Drug Wars,” where she also makes the case for why the newly arriving youth should be recognized as refugees.
As policymakers in D.C. considered various proposals to address the surge in migration from Central America, Nazario played a critical role in raising awareness among the public and policymakers alike regarding the plight of these children, including the flaws in the U.S. immigration system that undermine their safety and due process rights, such as the lack of legal representation for children before immigration court. In response to what she viewed as a great injustice, Nazario gave speeches across the country to reveal the realities of the push factors forcing children to seek refuge and stressing the need to give children a safe haven rather than a cold shoulder. She also spoke about the issue on The Daily Show, Anderson Cooper 360, and several other television and print news outlets. In July, Nazario testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, giving migrant children the voice they so desperately needed. In addition to her direct advocacy, Nazario also serves on the board of Kids In Need of Defense, an organization dedicated to providing legal counsel for migrant children in the U.S.
Just this past week, the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security held a hearing to consider various proposals on immigration enforcement, including some that would strip basic protections for child migrants, limit their due process rights, and put them at risk of being deported back to dangerous conditions. Thus, there is still much more work to be done to ensure that U.S. immigration policies address the needs of children and families, and champions like Sonia Nazario play an important role in helping expose the consequences for children if we continue to wait.