The humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied minors from Central America arriving at our Southwest border has brought out the worst in some of our politicians.So begins this terrific column in today's New York Times.
The amount of double-speak coming from fork-tongued conservatives on this issue is sickening. It wraps faux-concern around unwavering, and even emboldened, anti-immigrant, border-militarization rhetoric.
Blow sets up what he wants to offer by quoting a by-now well known exchange between Sean Hannity and Ted Cruz that is patently inaccurate and for a man supposedly as bright as Cruz stunning in its dishonesty, the one where Cruz while acknowledging the humanitartian nature of the crisis says
This is the direct consequence of President Obama’s lawlessness.Blow responds with the necessary context, one Cruz surely knows, that the 2012 Executive Order to which he refers, that allows Dream Act eligible students to be taken out of the deportation process and granted work permits, was not amnesty, as then Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano made clear, but rather a redirection of resources that are limited to higher priority cases. Here I might add that one reason those resources are limited has been the obstinacy of House and some Senate Republicans in providing the resources necessary, at least in part because they want a political issue.
But there is more of importance in this column.
The issue is unaccompanied children arriving at the border.
The President is, according to Blow, in taking this action enforcing a law passed by the Congress and signed by George W. Bush that was meant to protect children from human trafficking. Republicans like Cruz want to argue that by doing this the Obama administration is encouraging the sending of these children from Central America.
Blow responds bluntly:
But one can’t call the president and his administration lawless on the one hand, then blame them for proper law enforcement on the other.Congress of course can "fix" the problem they created, but as Blow points out
To follow that line of reasoning, one must also accept the premise that the whole of a law designed to protect children arriving alone from dangerous parts of the world is not noble and humane. I reject that logic.How are we supposed to hold our heads high on humanitarian issues if, in our haste for a fix and our fixation on deterrence, we return even a few children to a place where their lives are in danger?The children are primarily coming from three nations: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
The projected number of such arrivals for the Federal Fiscal Year ending September 30 is 90,000, an increase of 20,000 over the previous year. In a nation of over 300 million that is a miniscule number, although it does place strains on border communities. It is one well within the capability of the United States to address.
Those children coming from Guatemala do so primarily for economic reasons, coming as they do from poor rural areas. The source of this statement is a survey done for Homeland Security by Pew. By contrast, Salvadoran and Honduran children come from "extremely violent regions" so that whatever the perceived risks of traveling to the US they are seen as less than the dangers of staying home. Blow points out that the biggest source is certain urban areas of Honduras, a nation he describes as "the murder capital of the world" (and links you to a source for that statement.
Blow points out that if the reason for the surge were the appeal of amnesty we would be seeing children from all of Central America, especially Mexico, but we are not.
I am of Eastern European Jewish background. Some of my family migrated to the United States to get away from pogroms. Some of my schoolmates growing up were descended from young people who traveled alone if there were even one relative or acquaintance in the US in order to escape being drafted in the army of Czarist Russia. Other came because they could not get educations in Eastern Europe because of their religious heritage. Those Jewish parents wanted safety and a better life for their children.
Perhaps that predisposes me towards the parents sending their children.
Last night my wife and I had a conversation about the effort by Dallas County to find homes for some of these children. I am 68, she is 57 and a cancer survivor, and neither of us speaks Spanish. We would almost certainly be rejected, and the hours we work would probably make us an unsuitable home for younger children. But we were move enough to consider it even though we reluctantly decided not to explore it.
Perhaps that is why the ending of Blow's column spoke so powerfully to me when I read it this morning. I wish I could quote the final five paragraphs. Blow powerfully lays out
the Hobson's choice between the dangers of remaining at home and those of traveling, entrusted to a "coyote":
There are no easy answers for them and their families, no safe happy places where childhood innocence is protected.He argues that we should treat this children, following the instructions of their parents, doing as they are told, with compassion. These children dream of a better tomorrow.
They dream as any child dreams — of happiness and horrors.Read Blow's column.
And their parents are no doubt like any parents, forced to make the most wrenching of decisions, sometimes about whether to leave a child in a never-ending hell or have them risk a hellish journey to a better place.
No parent makes such a choice lightly.
Pass it on.