“An urgent humanitarian situation.”
That’s how President Obama characterized the wave of unaccompanied children caught trying to cross the U.S.-Mexican border. In a memo released June 2, the President also asked Congress for an extra $1.4 billion in federal money for this cause, and he appointed the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig Fugate, to be in charge of the situation, providing the children with medical treatment, food and mental health services.
60,000 Unacompanied Minors
Officials expect that at least 60,000 children will be caught making this dangerous journey, without their parents, in 2014. It’s a number that has skyrocketed in recent years: between 2008 and 2011, the number of children landing in the custody of Refugee Resettlement fluctuated between 6,000 and 7,500 per year. That number grew to 13,625 in 2012, and to over 24,000 last year.
As a parent, I cannot imagine making such a desperate decision, believing that it would be safer to send my child on this perilous journey than to have him remain at home. Nor can I imagine watching my child leave, not knowing if I would ever see him again.
Thank you, Mr. Obama, for making this move for children who are in desperate straits.
What Is Driving This Movement?
The children, boys and girls sometimes as young as eight, are mainly coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. (Mexican children are repatriated immediately if apprehended.) They are fleeing extreme violence and poverty in their home countries.
As Wendy Young, executive director of Kids in Need of Defense, explains, the violence is generated by gangs that are preying on younger children. Narcotrafficking is the primary driver, along with smugglers who are taking advantage of families, telling them that once children get across the border they will find a good life.
According to a report by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 48 percent of unaccompanied children interviewed said they experienced or were threatened with harm by criminals.
Once caught, the children are held in agency-contracted shelters while a search is conducted for family, a sponsor or a foster parent who can care for them through their immigration court hearings,
Right now, more than 1,000 minors are being housed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Officials will fly other children to a base in Ventura County, Calif., that can house up to 600 and probably will open later this week.
Laura Ingraham Disagrees
Regardless of the reasons these young people risk everything to cross the border, this is a crisis situation, which President Obama is rightfully addressing.
However, Fox News and ABC News contributor Laura Ingraham disagrees with President Obama’s response. Although she calls herself a Catholic, and has three adopted children, including one from Guatemala, Ingraham calls this humanitarian crisis an “invasion facilitated by our own government.” Dismissing the entire crisis, she stated that “it’s not our responsibility” to help these children and criticized the use of military facilities to house them.
Apparently she believes that these little children will ruin our way of life and take our jobs. According to Ingraham, the government is “trafficking illegal immigrants from one part of the country to another part of the country to further erode American wages and further forward their goal of ultimate amnesty and changing the electoral and cultural landscape of the United States forever.”
These are desperate children from Central America, whose countries are being torn apart by violence. Shame on Ingraham for her coldhearted response. She is not alone, of course.
Here’s a response from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who called the influx of unaccompanied children “an administration-made disaster.”
“Word has gotten out around the world about President Obama’s lax immigration enforcement policies and it has encouraged more individuals to come to the United States illegally,” Goodlatte said in a statement.
Fear of Little Children
People like Ingraham and Goodlatte are scared of the “other,” anyone who does not look like them. They are scared of the inevitable: that by the year 2050 (or possibly sooner), the current minorities of the U.S. will become the majority. Because of their fear and their determination to retain power, these people have become selfish and uncaring toward other human beings. These are not American values, nor are they Catholic values.
This is a humanitarian crisis to address on two fronts: we must take care of the kids here, for whom life has been so desperate, and Congress and the administration must respond to the root causes of poverty and violence in Central America.
What do you think?
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