Compassion is a trait that I do not consider old-fashioned. It has guided me over the decades, and it will to the end of my days. Even with all the baseless and fact-free rhetoric that is being spread widely about the ‘throngs of COVID-infected children’ at the Southern Border I rely on solid information and my inner compass. Our nation must act likewise and use our ideals as a guide in how to proceed with these young people.
Before I get to the heart of my post a fact needs to be put front and center. President Biden is still implementing a pandemic emergency rule from the past administration that empowers border agents to turn away migrants at the border, with the exception of unaccompanied minors. Those young people should not be considered expendable or able to make it on their own. They may not be our nation’s children. But they are children and we must act like caring adults.
The issue of immigration has been one that decades of policymakers and elected officials have argued about and, as of this posting, failed to address with comprehensive and meaningful legislation. The corrosive nature of our politics has even denied the Dreamers access to the security that would allow for their lives to have stability.
We should not allow for the mean-spirited nature of some politicians to gain traction on this issue for it is they who have in large part caused this humanitarian situation. How many times has a measure been pushed in congress where more immigration judges have been requested, a far superior process outlined for asylum requests, and even a registration system for unaccompanied minors? And how many times have conservatives in the congress rejected the content of those bills?
The fact is there will be much stress and upheavals in Mexico and Central American countries in the years to come. Some of it will be created by climate change and while there are those who will pretend that is not a ‘real concern’, it is in fact, already contributing to immigration. Reports from places such as the Northern Triangle (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador) underscores weather changes are happening as drought becomes prevalent. As such, challenges with farming means people are leaving.
Add in drugs and the misery they bring with additional crime, natural disasters, and failed governmental leadership and it is no wonder people flee in an attempt for something better. You and I would do the same thing if in that situation. Therefore it is proper to state we need to place ourselves into the shoes of a young person standing at our southern border.
I utterly and completely reject those inhumane voices who would simply turn vulnerable kids back to whatever propelled them into their northern journey. I suspect many of those conservatives who would reject these young people today were championing pro-life sentiments in the last election cycle. We must, as a nation, do far better than listen to the ones who lambast the ones who have come to our land in recent weeks.
First, there must be a faster and more seamless way to process the young migrants and transfer them to shelters managed by the Department of Health and Human Services. At that point, we know there are ample sponsors who will assist with these children.
Second, there must be a concerted bipartisan effort to pass and implement an idea that was talked about in the campaign. There is now an authorization request of $4 billion in funding (as part of the Engagement in Central America initiative) to get programming developed to combat the core issues that concern people so much they wish to immigrate to our nation. Fighting violence, corruption, drugs, gangs, and extreme poverty in the places they occur will be the best use of our funds and advance the type of long-term answers that are needed.
There are also ideas percolating within the Biden administration, in conjunction with the United Nations, to create shelters in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. By helping those seeking refuge from violence and extreme poverty in their home countries we can aid in a humanitarian way and not create immigration concerns.
We can be smart and creative in solving this problem. But we can not, MUST NOT, discard children because they come from another country and have brown skin. That runs counter to the very idea of America.
And so it goes.