Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tragic Travesty for Young Illegals

Tragedy and travesty.

These are the two words that keep popping up in my brain as I continue learning more and more about the growing crisis of underage illegal immigrants swarming America's border with Mexico.

It's a tragedy that so many children and teenagers are being forced half-way across our hemisphere without their parents and any guarantee of safe passage.  It's a tragedy that they're doing so illegally.  It's a tragedy that their parents apparently feel compelled to put their children on this dangerous trek because of the dangers they believe await them in their native countries if they don't.  It's a tragedy the whole enterprise is being run by nefarious traffickers of both drugs and humans, and who-knows-what-else.  It's a tragedy that these kids are showing up at our southern border and catching our local, state, and federal governments completely by surprise.

What makes all of these circumstances worse is that they're all, each, a travesty.

It's a travesty that many Central American parents aren't more willing to take action in their communities to protect their children.  If, as they tell us, there are thousands of families who all feel as though their children are in danger, are they all so utterly disenfranchised that they have no voice whatsoever?  No political leverage at all?  Not with anybody?

And if this is indeed the case, why wasn't our State Department aware of such violent conditions and the affects such violence was having on the people groups living in Central America?  Don't our State Department employees living in-country watch the local media?  Don't they know what's going on in the countries where they're working?  Can't they detect social trends simply by analyzing the requests for visas or asylum they're receiving from the local population?  Good grief - isn't having our bureaucrats in Washington telling us that they had no clue such a migration was taking place a sad, sad testament - in and of itself - to the efficiency of our government?

Or, to be more accurate, the inefficiency of our government?

Then there's the sketchy reports we've heard about the orchestrated marketing of such a migration within Central America.  Supposedly, these parents didn't think up this idea on their own.  They were told by somebody that their kids would be welcomed and integrated into the United States, and they were gullible enough, and maybe desperate enough, to believe such a thing.

But even if gullible, impoverished, and desperate parents were duped into thinking sending their children on such a journey would be better then letting them stay at home, what kind of parent ultimately makes the decision to somehow scrape together the money some crook is demanding to "help" their child "escape"?  The sums of money we're talking about are very high for an average destitute family in that part of the world.  But the money was raised, and in an amount that might have otherwise paid for moving an entire family out of the worst part of whatever country they were living in.  Not only that, but the money was given to people likely participating in the very criminal enterprises these families were supposedly scared of.  After all, do we know how many children have died or gone missing between there and here?

Were these parents truly believing that the only way to prevent their progeny from suffering rape, torture, abduction, or some other abuse was to put them on a danger-choked path to illegal entry into a country they might never reach?  Possibly never to see them again?  Children, officials tell us, as young as five and four years old?

What kind of parent does such a thing?  Surely the poverty and crime in Central America is no worse than in other parts of the world.  In Cambodia and Ethiopia, for example, destitute parents put their children in orphanages, but they're still close-by.  There is no multi-country on-the-lam dash for opportunity at the hands of drug runners and prostitution rings.

Doesn't it sound like these Central American parents were more interested in getting a foothold into America, and only America (not Mexico, for example), even if it meant using their children as pawns in the process?

What a travesty for these kids, right?  Illusions of money and safety are worth more to their parents than having their children with them and trying to provide for them where they are.  To many open-border advocates, the scenario makes sense, but what if American parents did it, sending their kids to, say, Sweden?  Pin a note on them, stick them on a plane, and sent them to Stockholm, in a country reputed for generous welfare subsidies and stellar educational opportunities?

Wealth and security are relative concepts, aren't they?  Where do we draw the lines of legality and responsibility for these parents?  Does the land bridge Central America's impoverished families have to the United States make their plight more significant than the plight facing families in Sudan, or the girls facing genital mutilation in Afghanistan?

And what of Washington, since President Obama and both houses of Congress - and both parties on Capitol Hill - insist that immigration, national sovereignty, and border security are federal issues?  Border governors have called for Washington's top politicians to come and see this human crisis for themselves, and so far, not even the President wants a photo op at one of the newly-created detention centers.  Obama got some attention for claiming he's going to "go it alone" on immigration, and propose ways of diffusing this current situation himself, but isn't it just like a politician from any party to use the raw peril of young children to his or her own political advantage?

If he doesn't want to visit the detention camps along our border with Mexico, he should be down in Central America, making the rounds of their TV and radio stations, like he's done on all of the late-night talk shows here, calling for parents to stop illegally deporting their own children.  He needs to get tough in person with leaders in these banana republics whose ambivalence is fueling this travesty.  Maybe we can't squelch the cartels who are running these countries behind the scenes, but shouldn't we be able to provide law-abiding citizens there with better resources so they can advocate for their communities?  Or are drug-running and human trafficking simply easier and more lucrative for them than conventional commerce?

What a travesty for these children to have parents who can be so easily misguided, and to have been born in countries with politicians who really don't care about their existence.

Let's not miss the fact that it's been in America where politicians have raised a fuss over this situation.  Sure, some of it has been for their own political gain, but by and large, when the American media began to latch onto this story, and started running video of these kids sleeping under aluminum foil sheets and standing like caged animals in makeshift holding cells, elected officials from both parties rose up with a fairly genuine form of anger and compassion.  These are kids!  They aren't your run-of-the-mill border-jumpers.  Where are their parents?  What's going on here?

It wasn't just the logistical nightmare facing border state politicians, but basic humanity, wasn't it?  Where was this similar reaction from Mexican officials?  Or officials from any of the other countries through which these kids traveled?  Do you want us to believe that nobody knew any of this was going on until America's border stations started getting overwhelmed with abandoned children?

Funny how everybody else expected America to simply handle the situation.  Is that compassion on their part?  Is that a display of beneficent humanity?  Is that any way to legitimize the stance that these other countries are now taking against the United States?  Haven't they abdicated their rights to have a voice in how we handle the humanitarian crisis they've dumped into our lap?

And what about those Americans who have been protesting in front of government-leased buses in California these past couple of days?  Buses transporting children - along with some mothers who've come up with their kids - to new detention centers for processing.  Small hordes of conservative demonstrators have been demanding that the buses turn around, and that they don't want to house these kids for any length of time.  Send them back to where they came from - now!  We don't care how old - or young - they are.  They've got illnesses, and they're illiterate, maybe, and they're illegal, and...

They're children, folks!  And let's forget, for a moment, the "illegal" part of their immigration status.  For all intents and purposes, they've been kicked out of their home country by their own parents.  They've just survived what must have been a harrowing trip through places they've never been before, with people they'd never seen before, who made them do things they'd likely never done before.  Some of the teenage girls coming here are pregnant, and it doesn't take a lot of guessing to figure out when they got that way.  Where is our compassion?

Sure, compassion is what their parents hoped they'd find here.  But compassion is also what illegal immigration advocates say motivated those parents to begin with.  Compassion is what the human traffickers said they'd provide their kids until they got here.  Nevertheless, isn't compassion what these kids - kids who are probably scared, tortured, sick, malnourished, undereducated, homesick, psychologically-abused - need right now?

They've already been relinquished by their parents, exploited by the human traffickers, ignored by their native governments, and they're supposedly going to be foisted upon relatives who already live here, and whose own legal status appears dubious, since it doesn't seem that they're proactively contacting immigration officials to claim their kinfolk.  According to most media reports, our government workers are having to find the relatives.

It's all such a colossal tragedy, and an even more hideous travesty.  Every way you look at it.

But shouldn't we pity the children?

What kind of people picket the buses transporting these kids?  If anything, we should picket our elected officials, and force them to make unpopular decisions about our failed immigration policies.  We should demand that the countries from which these children have been pushed repatriate their innocent citizens, even if it means dismantling their own corrupt governments so as to neuter the cartels.  And we should get serious about the way we dole out foreign aid to these countries, and specify social resources that can cultivate better opportunities for these people in their native communities.

Good grief - if America cannot get things right for these young pawns in the illegal immigration game, what will that say about us?

We know what this tragic travesty says about where these kids came from.

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