Central America is in the midst of what the world recognizes as a humanitarian crisis. Criminal gangs are taking over much of the region and a civilian was more likely to be murdered in one of these countries over the last several years, than to be killed in Iraq during the height of the insurgency. Those gangs are recruiting young teenagers and if a teenager resists recruitment, will threaten, injure or even kill the teenager or family members.The impulse to help those less fortunate and in need is a wonderful and noble desire. I just wonder why this same concern is missing from the Iraq and Afghanistan debates? One can argue about why we got mixed up in that part of the world in the first place (President Clinton prehaps? Or the Democratic votes in the Senate?), but why are we abandoning those women and girls to their particular horrors?
As a result many teenagers and younger children are choosing to leave their home countries and seek asylum elsewhere in the region. They're going to Mexico, to Costa Rica, to Nicaragua and many of them are going to the United States. Since October 1st of last year, 52,000 children unaccompanied by adults have been apprehended by Border Patrol and that's not counting the tens of thousands of mothers who are bringing their children into the United States to flee as well.
Of course having so many people coming to the country, admittedly without papers, is causing a lot of controversy. Part of this is because they have strained the system which was built under the Bush administration to deal with 6,000 to 8,000 kids coming across the border alone every year, not 52,000.
But part of it because some would like the border to be force field to be able to automatically refuse anyone who doesn't have proper papers for being able to set foot in the United States. But there are very good reasons that the border isn't a force field. US law has an established process so that when someone comes across the border and doesn't have papers but fears for their life, there can be a way to determine if they're eligible for asylum or another form of humanitarian relief. But that is the system that is currently being overwhelmed.
So the question facing the United States right now is how far are we willing to go in the name of immigration enforcement without undermining the humanitarian commitment that if you fear persecution and you escape to America, we will try to find a place for you.
Why are they any less deserving? Only because they aren't lucky enough to share a border with us?