The United States kicked 17 women and 21 children out of the country on Monday. It flew these illegal Central American immigrants to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. In the first five months of this year, over 2,000 unaccompanied child immigrants fled San Pedro Sula for the United States, trying to flee the city's gang violence and the highest murder rate in the world.
On sending these women and children back to mortal danger, the Obama White House yesterday issued this discouraging statement:
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the return of the Hondurans should be a clear signal to those thinking about crossing the border illegally that "they're entitled to due process but they will not be welcome to this country with open arms" [Steve Holland and Gabriel Stargardter, "U.S. Says Deportation of Honduran Children a Warning to Illegal Migrants," Reuters, 2014.07.15].
Not welcoming women and children fleeing danger is one of the most un-American and un-Christian (and probably un-Jewish, un-Muslim... heck, how about simply inhumane?) policy positions we can formulate.
President Obama evidently needs another meeting with Pope Francis, who issued a letter from a church conference in Mexico City calling on the U.S. to welcome and protect the thousands of children fleeing the violence in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala:
In a Monday letter, Pope Francis urged "intervention" from the U.S. government to make sure "these children are welcomed and protected." He also called for sympathy, citing the children's desire to get to the United States "in pursuit of a hope that in most cases turns out to be vain." Francis also recalled the children's struggles as "they are forced to leave their families and unfortunately still subjected to racist and xenophobic attitudes."
...The pontiff also reiterated his sentiments from an August statement on the plight of immigrants and the role of immigration in the world, suggesting the need for a "change of attitude towards migrants and refugees by all." He also said more understanding toward immigrants is the "only way to build a more just world" [Ross Gianfortune, "Pope Urges Protection for Unaccompanied Minors Flooding the Border," Government Executive, 2014.07.15].
Los Angeles is listening to the Pope:
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday that the city would help shelter immigrant children who have been detained after crossing the border and has begun talks with a federal agency about doing so.
"Before you get partisan, before you tell me where you are on immigration--these are children," Garcetti said Tuesday at a forum hosted downtown by Politico magazine.
"As a father, who are we as Americans if we don't step forward first and say, these kids who are isolated, alone ... let's get them someplace safe and secure," the mayor told the crowd ["L.A. Welcomes Children Crossing the Border," McClatchy via Governing, 2014.07.16].
I understand that we should follow the law. But if the child next door is being beaten by her stepdad and runs to your yard to hide, do you call the cops to arrest her for trespassing?
I understand that if you're in a lifeboat, you can only fit so many people. There comes a point where picking up one more drowning child would capsize the boat and sink everybody.
But America is a big lifeboat. The wide open spaces from North Sioux City to Peever tell me we're not out of seats. The money we spend on drones and bombers at Ellsworth and the Sanford Sportsplex tell me we're not out of rations. The United States has never declared itself full. We've never seen fit to declare a one-child policy to limit population growth. Certainly there must be some ceiling to food production, water supply, and living space, but until we hit that ceiling, it seems immoral to turn away from our borders any person, child or adult, seeking safety.
Senator John McCain and Rep. Jeff Flake from Arizona want to speed deportation of the 55,000 unaccompanied minors who've immigrated illegally to the U.S. this year but also allot 5,000 more refugee visas each to Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
How about we go one better... or 40,000 better? Let's revamp the EB-5 visa program. While we send frightened children who've hiked alone across Mexico back to violent Central American cities, we currently let rich foreigners buy their green cards by investing a half million to one million dollars in economic development projects, like a lot of those dairies that sprung up in the I-29 corridor over the last decade. Let's shift that EB-5 money to humanitarian assistance. Let rich foreigners keep jumping the queue with their money, but use their money to make the rest of the queue move faster. Use those millions in EB-5 money to place more visa application stations along the Mexican border, along with dedicated child advocates to handle these young, frightened refugees. use EB-5 money to provide those children and their caretakers with food and housing allowances. Let's require that EB-5 dollars go not to crony capitalist projects but to aid refugee assistance groups like the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (which agrees with the Pope that deportation of children fleeing violence is wrong).
And let's remove the cap on refugee visas and help all the kids we can.
That's what a humane country does. That's what a pro-life country does. That's what a rich country does. That's what America should do.