The Anniston Star

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October 31, 2014

Editorial: Lack of compassion about immigrant children

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Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 7:15 pm

U.S. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, typed out a heated letter this week to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security, telling authorities that the CDP — a training site for first responders — was not equipped to house hundreds, if not thousands, of undocumented children who have recently crossed the U.S. border.

Phony crisis averted.

The CDP isn’t going to become Alabama’s largest multilingual summer-camp program — as if that ever had a chance of happening, with or without Rogers’ tough-guy intervention.

The point: Neither the CDP nor McClellan can serve as a human warehouse. Anyone with basic knowledge of the property or the training activities that take place at the CDP knows that. Likewise, much has changed at McClellan since a smattering of hurricane evacuees were stationed there in the mid-2000s. Heavy industry has moved in. The CDP has grown. Dilapidated buildings have been demolished. By any standard, it isn’t the place for children to bunk down until authorities determine how to safely return them to their home countries.

That, of course, is the heart of the matter — not protecting the CDP’s interest. Congressional Republicans like Rogers twist themselves into knots while demanding that this crush of immigrant children be deported like drug-runners caught crossing over from Mexico. Evidence of Republicans’ concern for the welfare of these children is remarkably, yet predictably, non-existent.

Indeed, this is a humanitarian problem on America’s southern border. Don’t underestimate the severity. We suggest that Rogers and his GOP colleagues should listen to the stories being told by teenagers from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who’ve crossed over the U.S. border. In their tales are reports of beatings, rapes, molestations, sex slavery, weeks of grueling travel and fears of death, for themselves and their families.

The dangers are real, as illustrated by a 17-year-old Guatemalan, Ana, who told The Miami Herald this week that she became trapped during her journey in a mountain cottage where strangers raped her. “They threatened me, saying that if I ever said something about this they were going to kill me,” Ana said. “The only thing I begged them was not to harm me. The only thing I was thinking was that they were going to kill me. That I was going to die.”

The humanitarian emergency on our border isn’t of the United States’ making. It’s occurring throughout Central America as young people are flocking north to escape the violence and despair of their homelands.

Since last October, this sea of youthful humanity has landed on America’s doorstep. Despite Republicans’ history, it’s not too late for congressional Republicans, including Rogers, to drop the politics and offer compassion for the plight, and future, of these impoverished children.

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