The United States didn’t create the humanitarian crisis on America’s southern border. Without children streaming northward from Central America, there would be no crisis at all.
Nevertheless, Washington’s inability to pass sweeping immigration-reform legislation hasn’t helped the situation. Congress, most notably the combative, Republican-controlled House, has turned Capitol Hill into a political free-for-all devoid of leading. The party of Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is taking the modern-day notion of bipartisanism down with it.
Don’t think that truth isn’t realized elsewhere.
Like Honduras, whose president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, was one of the Central American leaders summoned to the White House Friday to meet with President Obama about the crisis. Before his meeting with Obama, Hernandez made it emphatically clear that, in his view, America’s political “ambiguity” on immigration has fueled the northern migration of young people from Guatemala, El Salvador and his nation.
“Here we have to say that the coyotes, the smugglers, who are very much a part of organized crime networks, perversely have sought to exploit those ambiguities and peddle a mistaken, a totally wrong interpretation to the parents of these children in saying, ‘You can get your kids in the U.S., we can do it for you,’” Hernández said, according to The New York Times.
While “those coyotes, those smugglers are nothing other than the human face of an enormous criminal monster that has one foot firmly in the camp of the drug lords and in Central America,” the other “second foot is here in the United States under American jurisdiction.”
Let’s say that the Honduran president’s argument is based on embellishment as much as it is fact.
Are smugglers getting rich shuttling young people to the United States? Yes.
Has the United States done a poor job of reforming its immigration laws and making sure Central Americans understand that migrating here in such large numbers is a losing proposition? Yes.
Does the United States share equally, if not more, in the blame for this mess? No.
That doesn’t absolve our nation of the humanitarian responsibility of seeing that these children receive safe housing and treatment while their cases snake their way through the immigration system. Only the harshest Americans would deny young people a safe place to sleep before they are returned home or, if their cases warrant, granted permanent residence here.
People don’t flee their homelands in droves when jobs are bountiful and streets are safe. They flee when they fear for their lives, when they can’t find work, when food is scarce. Central America’s leaders must realize that their first order of business is to get their own houses in order.