The flood of unaccompanied minors crossing the border is creating a political and humanitarian problem. How should Americans respond?
The recent influx of unlawful child immigrants may have begun after the White House confirmed its support for a policy allowing children brought illegally to the United States (by their undocumented parents) to remain in the country without fearing deportation.
Congress is hoping the issue might go away on its own, but they cannot really expect it to fade into oblivion or solve itself. Something must be done, but no one seems to know what to do — or how to do it.
Children have, of course, arrived at the borders on their own before, but the issue has become pressing through sheer numbers: an expected 60,000 people under the age of 17 will arrive at this border within the year. Some come to join family members already in the country. Some were living in poverty at home, surrounded by the violence of local drug wars.
Child immigrants are at the mercy of mercenary coyotes, who demand money to bring them across the border and who, too often, take advantage of them in unspeakable ways. Some children are sold into slavery. Some die due to misadventure. Some take their own lives as a result of the situations in which they find themselves. Some are sexually abused and violated. Many young boys and girls left their country not realizing how risky it is for them to attempt such a journey.
Their plight must become important to U.S. taxpayers. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services are bound by law to address the security and welfare needs of these children.
There may be a number of solutions, one has not yet been chosen. As such, the situation remains an imminent crisis in the making. The children must be kept safe, and they must be provided with what they came to this country seeking: peace, dignity, shelter and safety from the violence in their homelands. They are coming to the United States for a better life. As such, U.S. authorities need to find a way to handle this crisis in a humane and humanitarian manner.