On the Influx of Unaccompanied Children

The recent influx of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children at the southern border is an interesting quandary. That it has been politicized as an anti-Obama issue is more than slightly disturbing.

The reason these children are treated differently than similar children arriving from Mexico is mainly that we recognize that children are not apt to be sent on the hazardous trip across all of Mexico without the parents knowing that the threats of staying where they are is real and present. The thinking is that, when the need for freedom from oppression may be real, a hearing on asylum in the U.S. is warranted and ought to be guaranteed.

I think it obvious that the dangers of staying must be real. Whether the role of the U.S. should be to provide asylum must be decided on a case by case basis. Not all would qualify, but a hearing seems reasonable. The role of the U.S. in creating such a mess, it seems to me, should be dealt with, but probably in a different venue.

So why are we not doing what is needed to have the hearings? Perhaps we were just taken by surprise and overwhelmed by the sudden buildup. That we are not made of money (which many would dispute anyway) ought not figure in, I think. We can afford this.

That the long delay in processing the immigrants only encourages their immigration is a reason to find the money to process them more quickly, not a reason to extradite them as quickly as possible. It seems pretty obvious to me that the core of the resistance to providing the money lies in the rabid opposition to Obama which is so prevalent in the country today. That is simply shameful.

For the last 5.5 years this country has, for the most part, been moribund by a minority party that, because it is a minority, can accomplish virtually none of its own initiatives, but, because of the manner in which our government works, can stop anything the government might do on the initiative of the majority. I call this the Tyranny of the Minority, and see it as being as great a threat to our democracy as des Toqueville thought the Tyranny of the Majority would be.

That it has never been an issue before is largely a consequence of there having been a change in the rules associated to the filibuster in the Senate. But that’s another story–one that we’d better attend to soon lest we lose our democracy altogether. But it’s a different story, and one we should tackle elsewhere.

The current problem is exacerbated by both the number of unattended children we’re facing and the dysfunction our current government suffers. Because of the widely held animosity so many of those wishing for any president other than Obama have, it is difficult to separate the legitimate concerns from the politically driven ones.

Take, for example, the fear that many of the immigrants may be disease bearers or gang members themselves. The former is complicated by the length of time currently expected for resolution of their situation–another reason for finding the money quickly. People are terrified of disease in view of the current prominence of the ebola outbreak in the news. No one wants disease bearing children livng indefinitely in their neighborhood. The latter is probably driven more by blind prejudice than anything, but the concerns about the length of time resolving their situation seems justified here.

However, the solution of sending them back immediately, which seems to be the only move left to the conservative wing, is counter too both current law and common decency.

How about shipping them to Guantanamo Bay and decommissioning it as a prison. We could keep them there long enough to be sure they weren’t diseased and to evaluate their maleability to American approved values? Just a thought.


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One Response to On the Influx of Unaccompanied Children

  1. Dallas Smith says:

    George, I agree with you that it is unbecoming of our supposedly great nation to toy with the lives of refugee children. Sweden, a traditional asylum nation, accepted fifty thousand Syrian refugees this year (out of several million around the world). The US hasn’t accepted any, nor any significant number of Iraqis or Afghans. Our nation, built by immigrants, now suddenly wants declare refugee children illegal based on their country of origin. This is why, in World War II, a shipload of German Jewish refugees were turned away as illegal immigrants. This national disgrace now repeats itself.

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