Could you send her back? If it was your call, could you send a tired, dirty, hungry little 8-year-old girl, who just got pulled from the Rio Grande River by a Border Patrol officer, back where she came from?
Call her Maria. She got here by hitching a 1,400 mile ride on a freight train or on a rickety bus or in the company of an unscrupulous smuggler and she’s just walked across the last 45 miles of scrub and desert on the Mexican side, enduring untold physical and emotional hardship.
You’re the immigration judge. Would you send her back to El Salvador or Honduras or Guatemala where she came from?
I hope Vice President Biden has made clear that each nation will be held accountable financially, legally and morally for each of their citizens we are forced to care for, maintain and maybe, return.
Maria's scared to death. She tells you that the Coyote who took her from her parents is the only adult she knows in America. And he left her at the river. She's been traveling in his company for weeks, along with say a half dozen other children from her home country.
Maria’s about 4 feet tall and weighs about 75 or 80 pounds. She has no phone number for her parents back home or they’re dead or they don’t want her, or, most likely, they’re desperate for her to have a better shot at a decent life than she would have back home.
Are you going to send her back?
Her dirt-poor family sent her on this child’s crusade because they were told by the gangsters who run her old neighborhood that they going to force her into prostitution when she hits 12 or 13. One older brother has been recruited by her old neighborhood’s drug gang, another is already dead.
Are you going to be the one who sends her back?
This entire debate over what to do with the flood of unaccompanied, undocumented immigrant children must start with the premise that no real American could be so harsh and heartless as to forget that ours is a compassionate immigrant nation that could never send a small child back to an uncertain future.
We declare ourselves, One Nation under God. To quote Mathew 19:14, “but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven’.”
Christian, Jew, Muslim, all of us, Right/Left, Democrat/Republican must start the debate about who is responsible for causing this flood of undocumented immigrant children by first agreeing that every child who sets foot on American soil is a refugee who must be cared for, protected, fed, clothed, and yes, even educated in a sane, safe, protected and appropriate environment.
Once the children are safe and sound, we can direct our attention to who caused this humanitarian crisis on our Southern border and what to do about it.
As to responsibility, it is impossible for President Obama to escape this one. Central America has always been poor and violent, although the drug cartels have undeniably made the situation worse in recent years. The child immigrant deluge did not begin until the president’s pre-2012 election announcement that deportation would be deferred for young kids brought here by their parents through no fault of their own.
The unscrupulous smugglers then distorted Mr. Obama’s message to say that all unaccompanied kids who made it to America would be allowed to stay. Hence, the cascade of kids like my Maria and between 70 and 90,000 others just like her before the end of this year.
However, while the deluge is the unintended consequence of the president’s well-intended executive order, there is similarly no doubt that House Republicans bare a substantial share of the blame for their stubborn refusal to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The Senate passed a bill that establishes a sensible system for dealing with child immigrants like Maria, but it has been blocked by Congressional Republicans.
Note to the GOP: pass the damn bill, or, if you have a better idea, then let’s hear it.
The governments of the countries these kids come from are also responsible.
In his current meetings with Central America’s leaders, I hope Vice President Biden has made clear that each nation will be held accountable financially, legally and morally for each of their citizens we are forced to care for, maintain and maybe, return.
But unless there is some appropriate person waiting for her back home, Maria is staying right here. Our American values demand it.