Illegal Immigration Crisis, Humanitarian Crisis, Refugee Crisis? All may be true but how we frame this will largely determine how we chose to address this crisis. What we can all agree on is more than 60,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed the border into the United States from Central America in the past 12 months. This number has been swelling dramatically in the past couple of years. Most of these children are coming into the US through the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. Everyone also seems to acknowledge that our current system is ill-prepared and ill-equipped to handle this influx of children on so many levels.
I am once again disappointed that an issue that clearly needs bi-partisan leadership to work on solutions has largely degraded into the typical blame game. When will the citizens of this state and this country tire of this tactic? The President is being blamed for his slow response to the crisis by some and for even following current law by others. Both parties are criticizing each other for the lack of immigration reform. I’ve seen criticism for ICE, Department of Justice, and Congress. Political pundits and infotainment superstars are working overtime pointing fingers and spinning the topic to suit their agendas. Meanwhile, scores of children’s lives are in the balance.
We can grouse about the price tag, poor leadership, border security, negligent oversight, and dozens of other things but at some point we need to discuss the experiences of these individual children. My hope is our elected leaders will get to the root of this crisis through thoughtful analysis rather than kick the can down the road. A long-term solution is likely to include humanitarian aid, stepped up border security, policy changes domestically and internationally, appropriating adequate resources, and a number of other steps, but in the meantime, what about the children?
Most of these children have been terrorized and many have experienced horrific abuse. Some have been sexually abused in their home country, others have been sexually abused in transit, and tragically, still others have been sexually victimized once they are in custody in the United States. This is unacceptable in the lives of any children! The profound trauma experienced by these children must be handled in the most professional and compassionate way possible. So while many Americans may support an expedited process for getting these children through the system I don’t believe that includes shortcuts on due process and moving at speeds that ignore all realities they may have endured in their young lives.
I know the solutions for this situation are complicated, expensive, and likely divisive but I am willing to swallow a hard dose of “bottom-line”, “compromise”, and “hard choices”, but I want to be certain that my elected leaders are truly tempering all of their proposals with old-fashioned “humanity.” As Americans, as voters, as decent human beings, we need to keep a close watch on this tragedy, demand accountability by our elected leaders, as well as find out how we can individually assist in the interim. Churches, rape crisis centers, online appeals, pro bono attorneys….there are folks working on this problem so find them and help them….volunteer, write a check, start a letter writing campaign to our legislators, etc. Let’s mobilize!!
To see TAASA’s talking points on the issue click here.