Stop Encouraging Dangerous Behavior

07-13-2014Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Opinions on what to do about Immigration and Border issues in our country are often formed by the heart without the head or the head without the heart. The first leads to an ooey-gooey form of feel-good-ism that only furthers the problem and the latter offers a sterile response that reduces people to a commodity. And as I have pointed out previously, the current political parties have no interest in really fixing the problem since it is such an effective political battering ram that they can use against each other. But in the meantime thousands of children are streaming across our border as a direct result of our current immigration policies.

The WHY is pretty simple: coming to the US offers opportunities that these children would never have in their home countries. In his recent speech on Foreign Policy given at West Point, President Obama disappointingly never mentioned Latin America. It would seem to me that it is in our national interest to help the poor countries to our south develop economically. That might reduce the need for people to flee their home countries. The conditions must be pretty bad for parents to seriously jeopardize the lives of their children to send them on the dangerous and uncertain journey to the US.

The problem is not so much why they are coming but, HOW they are coming. These children are making a journey that is incredibly difficult and dangerous. We are seeing the children who make it to our southern border. What we are not seeing are the children who have been killed trying to make the journey, the children who have been abducted or kidnapped, the children who have been sold into the sex trade industry, the children who die from disease or dehydration. This steady flow of young souls is also enabling the human trafficking industry to flourish. And who is profiting the most: the Mexican cartels who control the passage up through Mexico to the US border. These cartels are not known for their humanitarianism. Additionally we know that the families of these children are often extorted for more money and their children are held captive until the money is paid. It is immoral for the US to encourage human trafficking and put the lives of children at such a great risk.

It seems then that there are two solutions. Either the President states very publicly that the US border is closed, if you come you will not get in, if you get in you will be returned to your homeland. Or, if the Federal Government wants this to continue, they should allow these children to come by train, car, bus or airplane and once arrived give them legal status. Either way it would put an end to our being complicit in the exploitation of children by the cartel's human trafficking trade.

For years there has been a worldwide effort to combat human trafficking and especially the exploitation of minors. Yet many of the same groups that have fought the hardest in this effort, namely the UN, the US State Department, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, many of the Catholic religious orders and other Christian denominations are strangely silent on this latest surge of human trafficking. Why? It seems because they don't want to be perceived as "heartless" and associated with the "head only" crowd. In other words their silence is in the service of a political agenda; so what if we have to sacrifice children to further that agenda? It's something the "reproductive rights" crowd has already done quite effectively.

We do have a moral responsibility to these children who are crossing our borders for a chance at life in the US. That responsibility not only includes caring for their well-being and safety while they are with us but also caring for their well-being and safety by not enticing them to take this dangerous journey in the first place.

I hope it's not too much to ask our elected officials to act like adults, stop looking at the opinion polls and do the right thing for all involved and not just their reelection chances.

St. Frances Cabrini, Patroness of Immigrants, pray for us.

Love, Fr. John B.

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