The Obama administration was facing mounting pressure this week over the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where a surge in the number of child immigrants arriving from Central America has stretched authorities close to the breaking point. More than 47,000 unaccompanied minors have been caught crossing the border in the past eight months, and officials expect that number to double by year’s end.
With holding shelters crammed full, officials in Texas shipped hundreds of unaccompanied minors to Arizona and California, where they have been placed in military centers or released to relatives. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson assured Congress that any illegal migrants caught crossing into the U.S. would be deported, “regardless of their age.”
This is a mess of Obama’s making, said NationalReview.com in an editorial. In 2012, the president agreed to grant amnesty to any immigrant who claims to have arrived in the U.S. before his or her 16th birthday. “Word of Obama’s permissive approach to illegal immigration has filtered south,” and now the borders are under siege. “The only way to stanch the flow is to change such expectations,” and send the children home.
This “is not an immigration story,” said Brian Resnick in National Journal.com. It’s a refugee crisis. Most of these children are fleeing drug and gang violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala—“some of the most dangerous places in this hemisphere.” They’re not just heading to the U.S., either: The number of asylum seekers in Nicaragua, Belize, Panama, and Costa Rica has exploded 712 percent since 2008.
“For the ‘crime’ of trying to escape war and chaos,” said Ruben Navarrette Jr. in TheDailyBeast.com, these kids are being treated like dirt. In some holding shelters, up to 40 children are forced to share a filthy room with one toilet, and no beds or blankets. Lawmakers need to work on a long-term solution to this influx, but meanwhile we should give the children the minimum they’re entitled to: “dignity.”