[guest post by Dana]
As we continue to watch the president’s immigration policy implode and the resistance to illegal detainees increase, we are also finding out more about some of the 52,000 unaccompanied children who survived the long and dangerous journey to the US.
Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo, TX) spoke to 1080 KRLD in Dallas, Texas:
Officials at Lackland Air Force Base told us that one-third of young girls that come across – and they were just like little babies; 10, 11, 14 years of age. That about one third of them get raped and/or abused on the way here.”
Cuellar says that as he was speaking to Customs and Border Patrol agents he was also discovering a disturbing trend of adults “renting” children in Central America in order to increase their chances of being able to stay in the U.S. once they cross over.
“I was talking to somebody that worked for Border Patrol, and he said that in the late 80′s there were a lot of kids from El Salvador coming in and what they were doing is they had a ‘rent-a-kid’ program.” says Cuellar “In other words they said ‘oh if I come in and I have a kid with me they’ll let me go.” And the Border Agent told him “Henry, I’m seeing this again, I cannot believe it.”
“This is a phenomenon that has gone on for years if not decades,” says George Grayson a Professor of Latin American Politics at William and Mary “As far as I know they pay the families (and remember these economies are in sad shape) and therefore to get maybe a few hundred dollars you’re willing to give up your 7th or 8th child.”
Grayson says that coyotes (smugglers) will often use children as a distraction, “Because your heart goes out to children. If the same group of organized criminals is trying to move drugs you can distract them by having a group of children moving into one part of the McAllen corridor into Texas and then you have your drugs moving in a few miles away.”
Meanwhile Cuellar goes onto say that the wave of illegal immigrants coming across the Southern Texas border has not ebbed at all.
“It still is bad… about 1,200 to 1,500 people they’re catching a day and about 20 to 30 percent of them are kids with no parents.”
With that, I wanted to mention as aspect of this issue that was brought up in the comments section a few nights ago, and that is the issue of compassion for these children.
My position is that unaccompanied children are nothing but pawns in an ugly grown-up game of politics. To assign them blame or anger is not only wrong, but is to potentially lose sight of who is really responsible for this situation. Likewise, to respond to them with unbridled sympathies, as our administration hopes, can distract us from holding responsible parties accountable, as well as clouding our view of immigration policy. Rather than objectively seeking what is in our country’s best interest, we instead yield to our sympathies. Unmeasured emotional reactions of any kind benefit no one. They are a liability, especially when it comes to decision making.
With that, I believe a measured response of compassion accurately reflects who we are as the greatest nation on earth. These children have been victimized in the worst way by assorted unsavory adults, including elected officials, and thrown into a devastating situation beyond their control. As such, how does one not respond to them – not the politics swirling around them – with some level of compassion? I believe it is possible to view these children in this light, while at the same time holding firm the belief that they must be returned home. Compassion and doing what is in the best interest of our country are not mutually exclusive. And stating the obvious, a compassionate response to their plight does not negate nor minimize their illegal presence in our country, nor does it diminish one bit the self-serving manipulations and complete neglect of duty by an impotent administration in failing to do its damn job of securing the border in the first place.
While one side hurls accusations of “xenophobes”, “racists”, “facists” at those of us who believe that the illegal detainees must be returned home and our borders secured, there are also those on this side of the issue who seem to believe that these children, simply by being unlucky enough to have been caught in the middle of an adult-made quagmire and thus here illegally, are unworthy or undeserving of compassion.
As misguided as our accusers are, so also is it as equally misguided to deny a rudimentary truth: “there but for the grace of God, go I” when considering the plight of these children. Spare me the You’re-playing-into-the-hand-of-the-Nancy Pelosi-President Obama-who-want-you-to-feel-sorry-for-them bullshit. I am not talking politics here (which, of course, they are), nor am I talking about a silly “compassionate conservatism”. This is not about some manipulatively designed political strategy intended to produce a specifically designed outcome. It is none of these. Rather, I am looking beyond the politics and paring it down to a basic fundamental: the intrinsic worth of a child – no matter where they come from or how they got here. The individual must be worth something. As such, these children who are powerless to change or control their situation, deserve our compassion.
Because here’s the bottom line: you and I will be fine. Simply put, and notwithstanding our immigration policy debacle, we will be the ones still living on this side of the border in the greatest country on earth.