Editorial: Our border problem

Americans, we have a problem.

Thousands of children from south of our border are trying to enter the United States, some alone and some with adults, and our political gridlock is preventing the federal government from responding in a timely fashion.

This means this tragedy is getting larger by the minute.

Earlier this week, congressional Republicans rebuffed the White House and its request for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to help pay for more border security, staffing and equipping more temporary detention centers and adding immigration court judges to more quickly process asylum cases.

Republicans in the House and Senate came up with a resounding “no” to the proposal, though to listen to their public statements, they seem to agree that there’s an issue with the roughly 52,000 children — most of whom come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — who have wound up stranded along the U.S.-Mexico border. If you listen to many of those who voted against the funding, this is a criminal, not a humanitarian, crisis — one that should be met with force, whether it’s the use of National Guard or loading up the children up willy-nilly and flying them back to their countries of origin.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of logical thought going into that idea — after all, flying thousands of children back to their respective countries costs money, and such a response also overlooks a 2008 law, passed under the George W. Bush administration, that prohibits the automatic deportation of children from countries that are not contiguous with the U.S. Instead, the law mandates appearances before a judge and the consideration of asylum — exactly what the president is trying to expedite.

That law takes notice of the fact that these children aren’t chattel. Many have left their homeland because they fear for their lives because of gangs or they want to escape poverty and, yes, because the U.S. holds the promise of a better life. Many are trying to be reunited with family members already living here.

In other words, it IS a humanitarian crisis, one that has no simple solution, not if you refuse to consider the children some kind of criminals.

It requires instead a multi-pronged approach, one that takes thought, time, money, diplomacy and compassion. Wasting time in political posturing while doing nothing substantive will not make the children on our border go away.

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