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Dana Frank

SANTA CRUZ >> UC Santa Cruz professor Dana Frank, an expert in modern Honduran history, traveled to Sacramento Tuesday to speak in favor of a state Assembly resolution calling for humane treatment of the children fleeing from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and seeking refuge in California.

About 28 percent of the 52,000 children detained at the border this year have been from Honduras, 24 percent from Guatemala, and 21 percent from El Salvador, whose respective murder rates are among the six highest in the world, according to House Resolution 51, which was passed by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a 8-1 bipartisan vote and moves next to the Assembly floor.

Assemblymembers Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, and Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, who are on the committee, voted in favor.

“It’s important to have a scholarly voice supporting this,” said Frank, whose testimony was followed by a half-dozen speakers from Southern California in opposition, including the organizer of protesters in Murrieta to block federal transport of undocumented immigrant children, who claimed the resolution was “designed to take away our constitutional rights.”

Said Frank, “It was scary to hear the hostility they had toward these children who are fleeing terror.”

Frank penned an opinion piece that appeared Jan. 27, 2012 in the New York Times, contending the Honduras president was the winner in “a fraudulent election” after a coup in 2009 deposing his predecessor, which “allowed corruption to mushroom.”

She followed that up with articles in Foreign Affairs and The Nation on the November election where the president gained a second term.

“Both of these elections were riddled with fraud and violence,” said Frank, who visited Honduras in January and noted 108 members of Congress asked Secretary of State John Kerry in May to evaluate U.S. support for the Honduran police and military in the wake of a State Department report acknowledging the extent of human rights abuses in Honduras.

At least 13 journalists have been killed since the Honduran president took office, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“It’s important in terms of any public conversation about these border kids to pay attention to the roots of the violence and poverty kids are fleeing,” Frank said, noting the situation is not identical in the three countries. “The leader of El Salvador has the political will … there’s hope for El Salvador.”

Resolution 51 was introduced by Majority Leader Manuel Pérez, who visited border patrol facilities in Coachella where some undocumented immigrants were taken and traveled last month with five other legislators, including Alejo, to El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama, where immigration was discussed.

Perez contends gang violence, sexual assault and political corruption in Central America have driven up the number of children coming to the U.S. without their parents but sections of the resolution outlining the role American foreign policy played in creating the violence were deleted before the vote.