Back in the 80’s, while working in Kansas City, I took the morning show to El Paso, Texas to learn about the border, and illegal immigration. At night, my newsman and I would accompany Border Patrol agents as they attempted to apprehend those crossing the Rio Grande into the United States. I use the word “attempted” with good reason.
In the late afternoon, crowds would begin to gather on the Mexican side of the river, which was most of the year perhaps some yards wide, and a few feet deep. In other words, it was no barrier whatsoever. On the far side, in Ciudad Juarez, was a 8 or 10 foot tall chain link fence, riddled with holes. On the American side, a similar fence had been erected. And though that fence was repaired daily, it too was in need of patching. As the light faded behind the Sierra Madre Oriental, anticipation would build on the Mexican side as hundreds prepared to come across. Eventually, the floodgates opened. The agents, vastly outnumbered, apprehended those they could, but most made it through, and headed for a railroad yard to the North, where they jumped a freight car to parts unknown.
One of those caught was a 15-year old from Central America. He told the agents that he was here to work, to earn money that he would send home. His only possession was a parrot, which he planned to sell to help get set up. And interestingly, he reported that the most dangerous part of trek was traveling through Mexico. By the way, Mexico has erected a fence along its Southern Border, staffed with soldiers with orders to shoot-to-kill if necessary.
Now, the hundreds crossing daily are thousands. Most are young, though not all. Most lack much in the way of education or job skills. And the village it takes to raise a child has expanded to a nation. For now, they’re our kids. They will need food, clothing, vaccinations (as outbreaks of staph infections, chicken pox, and measles are being reported), permanent shelter, and school. And they could be sent back home- but to where, to whom, and how?
Last night in Virginia, House Minority Leader, Eric Cantor was defeated in the Republican primary by an unknown economics professor, David Brat. The smart guys believe
it was because of Cantor’s recent statements that he was open to dealing with the President on immigration. As Mickey Kaus writes on his website, Kaus Files:
“[T]he main issue in the race was immigration. It’s what [GOP challenger Dave] Brat emphasized, and what his supporters in the right wing media (Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Mark Levin) emphasized. It’s the charge Cantor defended against—by conceding the issue and posing as a staunch amnesty opponent.*** But Cantor had signed onto the GOP’s pro-amnesty “principles” and endorsed a poll-tested but irresponsibly sweeping amnesty for children (a “founding principle” of the country, he said). Brat opposed all this, even as illegal immigrant children were surging across the border in search of a Cantor-style deal.”
I’m not one for predictions, but knowing how politics works, I have a feeling that pressure will build to re-unite the child refugees with their families, and that will solve the problem. Together again, but not in El Salvador.