Kids In Cages: Were It Only That Simple

By

Leonard Zwelling

I am no expert on immigration. I do know that immigration to the United States is one of the foremost reasons for American dominance in the world since WW II. I also know that any attempts to limit the access the rest of the world desires to have to our shores is probably a mistake because American innovation and American ingenuity have been driven by those who came to America seeking a better life and making one for themselves and for the rest of us.

The images from our Southern border of kids from Central America being penned up in rooms with chain link walls, separated from their parents and obviously terrified and traumatized are dreadful. As I understand it, this is a result of the Trump Administration policy of Zero Tolerance. It was not the product of a law passed by Democrats as the White House would have the county believe. I know that because it has been reversed by a Presidential decree, which would not be the case if the policy to separate kids from parents were the product of congressional action.

But let’s drop back a second. What’s the real problem?

The first aspect of the problem is that many people with children feel obliged to try to leave their homelands in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador because of gang violence and the recruitment of young boys into the gangs. Clearly the governments of these countries have no control over this if their own people are leaving as fast as they can.

Second, obviously these people all come through Mexico to get to the U.S. border. Perhaps we could work more closely with the Mexican government instead of antagonizing it to attempt to deal with this influx of people to the north.

Third, there are criminals bilking the population of Central America to get them across the U. S. border. Apparently these coyotes can charge up to $10,000 per person to smuggle their “product” into the U.S.

Fourth, the border patrol is trying to create some order along America’s southern flank. It’s a big border and there probably aren’t sufficient numbers of personnel to handle the crush of people. That includes ICE agents, DHS personnel, the members of DHHS who care for the kids and the judges who have to handle the caseload.

Finally, there is the media that has been wholly irresponsible in the coverage of this story. The federal employees who are trying to do what the mixed up Trumpees want them to do are doing the best that they can with a set of untenable orders. Taking pictures and playing audio of screaming kids is not really making the extent of the story clear to the American public.

The president is right. The border is porous and some bad people do get in. He is also wrong to take people’s kids away from them and at least he has corrected his error while not admitting to it. But in the end, the only likely solution will be on the ground in the countries of origin of these refugees. If the U.S. is not talking productively to these governments and offering them assistance in making their streets safe so people won’t want to come to the U.S., it is missing the real opportunity.

Kids in cages makes sensational television, but it is the result of failed policy all the way from Honduras to Matamoros. If President Trump really wants to end the crisis, he might consider a trip to Central America and some proposals to help the countries there get rid of the violence that is spurring the egress of their population and its arrival on our border.

Leonard Zwelling