Others’ Opinion: Don’t return migrant minors to death sentence

Published 9:40 am Thursday, July 17, 2014

Say “humanitarian crisis” and most local folks probably picture starving children in famine-wracked countries. By many accounts, though, a humanitarian crisis is evolving here in America.

Tens of thousands of Central American children — most unaccompanied by their parents — are crossing the southwestern U.S. border and turning themselves over to federal authorities. Their goal is simple: Stay alive by fleeing violence in their own countries.

Their numbers, though, are quickly pushing the limits on the government’s ability to help them while testing the patience and tolerance of many Americans.

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If you’re among those Americans, please know there are no easy answers to this situation.

Know also that this crisis is just as much rooted in decades of U.S. politics and foreign policies as it is in Central American families willing to tear themselves apart.

So what should be done?

The top priority for Congress and President Obama is providing the necessary resources for immediate care of these children.

Lawmakers simultaneously need to determine whether these minors can be returned to their home countries to live safely. If so, then return them as quickly as possible. If their safety cannot be assured, lawmakers must allow them to remain here.

Lawmakers must address these priorities now. It would unconscionable for lawmakers to go on their traditional August break without providing some solutions, or worse, letting the crisis grow simply for political gain.

Finally, it cannot be stressed enough that the variables creating this crisis are incredibly complex.

Experts have noted in national news reports that America’s foreign policies the past several decades have set the stage for such a migration by wreaking long-term havoc with economies in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

More recently, lawmakers gave new protections to migrant children not from neighboring Canada or Mexico to prevent human trafficking. Meanwhile, they also amplified border security to the tune of 10,000 more Border Patrol agents, 650 more miles of fencing, etc.

With that in mind, it’s hard to see how “securing the border” is the first, best use of federal resources.

Should the border be more secure? Of course. The bigger immediate challenge, though, is caring for the kids already here and determining if returning them to their home countries doesn’t amount to a death sentence.

—The St. Cloud Times

Distributed by MCT Information Services