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New chapter of the undocumented immigrant dilemma should give all Americans pause

LatinaLista — In the past, it’s always been very easy for critics of undocumented migrants to vilify them as usurping their place in the imaginary visa line. It’s easy to target able-bodied adults, who want nothing more than an opportunity to work, and cast them as a threat to the economic well-being of the average American.

Mexican minors walk through a gate dividing San Diego and Tijuana. (David Maung/The Associated Press)

But what happens when the immigrants are children, who have braved the elements and the violence to travel by themselves far from their home countries? Children who want only to reunite with their parents or envision the US as a Garden of Eden, compared to the abject poverty and gruesome violence ravaging their communities back home, that they don’t understand why they can’t come to the United States too.

The bottom line is they don’t understand or they understand only too well that to survive they must leave.

So, now, more than ever, children from Central and Latin America, some as young as 6-years-old, have decided not to wait for their parents anymore or wait for things to get better. By the grace of God, these children and young teens are making it all the way to the border of the United States.

Their presence is creating a new kind of immigration dilemma. Some are calling it a humanitarian crisis.

Politico reports that the spending stop-gap bill signed by President Obama today for $1.047 trillion allotted a $132 million increase to address the flood of unaccompanied child migrants crossing the Southwest Border from Central America who are detained at the border.

In federal-speak these are UAC’s: Unaccompanied Alien Children. Three quarters are male, averaging just over 14, according to the government. But more girls are showing up according to child advocates. And a front-page New York Times account in August detailed the poignant story of a 6-year-old boy caught up in an immigration court in Texas after crossing the border to try to reach his illegal immigrant parents inside the U.S.

The Women’s Refugee Commission will release a detailed report in mid-October on its own findings from interviewing more than 150 of the children. Already from briefings, it seems clear that the wave of violent crime from drug cartels and trafficking in Central America is a factor.

The Politico report underscores the gaps that exist in the federal government ensuring the safety, judicial representation and relocation of the children, not to mention the costs of holding them while their fate is being decided.

Because they are children, the notion that they would be put on the bus to be dumped on the other side of the border should be a no-brainer bad idea, ethically, morally and legally. Unfortunately, stories periodically surface of it currently happening.

While critics would say we can’t take everybody who shows up on our doorstep, the counter argument should be we can’t turn away and willfully put innocent children, who are prime targets of child traffickers and cartel violence, in certain danger.

We are a better country than that.

A new poll released today by American Pulse reveals that “62% of Likely Voters say America’s moral compass is not at all or not really pointing in the right direction.”

Clearly, rational Americans still have a grip on what is right and what is wrong.

Child solo-immigration is a humanitarian crisis that can only be resolved when the larger issue of immigration reform is addressed — and the country understands child immigrants are coming here for a reason and it’s not to steal American jobs.

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  • Armando_Cedillo
    September 28, 2012 at 10:47 pm

     “By the grace of God, these children and young teens are making it all the way to the border of the United States.”
    This is why we need to repatriate undocumented aliens. So that they can be re-united with their loved ones. 

  • JohnJohns1
    October 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    the citizens of the united states are not responsible for children whose illegal immigrant parents abandoned them ,if anything the mexican government should be agressively tracking down those parents and either demanding they return and take care of them or face prision time. we have over 47 million cictizens who are on food stampes and over 24 million unemployed.

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