A growing human catastrophe is developing on the borders of the United States, as thousands of unaccompanied children attempt to get into the country to escape impoverished and often terrifying conditions in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in Central America.
The children often come in to the country on the roof of 'the Beast', a train owned by a South Kansas railway company on a railway built to facilitate the NAFTA agreement – a free trade agreement which has increased mass poverty in central America: while capital and goods can flow freely, people can not. According to newspaper reports, 'For hundreds of miles (children) ride on the roofs of the train cars trying to avoid fatal falls, hot days, frigid nights, and low-clearance tunnels.'
Children make this terrifying journey because of the appalling conditions in countries like Guatemala and Honduras which are governed by US supported dictatorships. In Guatemala for example trade unionists are routinely terrorised and murdered – a situation which has persisted for decades and has been supported by the US government who, like 40th president Ronald Reagan consistently advised Guatemala to 'eliminate all sources of resistance.' In the case of Honduras a US recognised coup has left the country in chaos, with the highest murder rate in the world.
Now unaccompanied children are turning up on the US's southern border in droves. While some rightwingers demand that they be sent right back, others who recognise the horror which is unfolding in their midst are doing their best to welcome the youngsters.
Incredibly, far from making arrangements to protect the children, the Obama government says that the vast majority will be sent right back to their countries of origin and therefore into harm's way – the President is even planning to speed up the process.
This pain suffered by children is something that must concern teachers both in the US and in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras where teachers have been in the forefront of the  struggle against dictatorship.