Photo above: Families in an Arizona bus station waiting to be processed for transfer by Immigration authorities.
(YouTube screen shot)
The unprecedented tidal wave of Central American children crossing the border onto U.S. soil is causing a crisis that will continue to swell for years, unless these children are humanely repatriated to their country of origin and stricter border laws are created and executed that demand legal immigration only. We are told that these children are here due to violent circumstances in their homelands, and of course this is true – these countries have been violent for years, and sadly, that has not changed. But the fact remains that we need a policy like our policy with Mexico and Canada – if you cross the border, no matter what your age, you are repatriated back home.
To be the country we love, we must, in fact, be the country we love, and have a firm border. We must also champion and encourage legal immigration, welcoming all who seek that which makes America special among all the nations of the world.
A 2008 law that allows Central American children temporary relocation, almost unlimited assistance and judicious immigration/deportation proceedings was intended for children that are the victims of sex trafficking. But thanks to the lack of any cogent American policy on immigration – much less a border visit by the President to actually see the crisis firsthand – children are being pushed over the border en masse, victims twice – first, by adults that are willing to leave them in a new country alone, and second, by potentially going right back to the situation they just left behind.
Border agents are becoming overwhelmed nannies as they try to feed, clothe and care for these children who so desperately need help. But when you have your eyes and mind on one problem you are missing others, and we are compromising the border further to access by drug smugglers and potential terrorists as they take advantage of a distressed and overwhelmed border patrol system.
The President said he would seek statutory authority for closing the Central American “loophole,” which allows these children virtually unlimited access to our border. Yet he presented his $3.7 billion emergency package last Tuesday, it included no such request. Why not?
Furthermore, he has not seen this disaster firsthand, as he has been busy fundraising for the Democrats as well as enjoying leisure activities and travel. Do you remember the outrage when President Bush flew over Katrina instead of walking it? Where is the liberal media, as the President refuses to engage in any meaningful, active way in this border crisis?
According to border agents who are on the front lines of the child influx, a serious consideration for Americans is health-related: there is simply not time to give these children comprehensive check-ups and vaccines. This may be a very dangerous situation in the fall, when school begins. What is a nation who labors over choosing the right sippy cup and is moved to tears over the vaccination debate going to do when children flood the schools and are carrying potentially serious diseases? Where is the money going to come from to get these children proper vaccinations? Their numbers are predicted to double in the next three months alone.
We need to handle these vulnerable children with care and compassion. We need to provide whatever they need while they are with us and during their journey back home – but they do need to return home.
We are opening a Pandora’s Box with the Central American exception to out border policy and the price is too great. We need to speak with our dollars as we refuse any support of countries that do not have working laws severely punishing sex trafficking.
We need to focus on legal immigration, in support of our security and in support of those immigrants applying for citizenship legally right now – and we need to fortify our borders by completing work on them – a strong and secure border allows us to be a fair, healthy and welcoming nation.
Deirdre Reilly has written one humor book, and authored a syndicated family life column for Gatehouse Media for 13 years. She has won a Massachusetts Press Award for humor, her op-eds have been published in the Boston Herald and The Hartford Courant, and she has had short fiction published in literary journals. Deirdre was raised in Columbia, Md., and now lives outside Boston, Ma. She enjoys outdoor pursuits, and is obsessed with the care and happiness of a retired carriage horse named Nello that she bought for a few hundred dollars on a menopausal whim.