I’ve read all kinds of proposals for what to do with these children and how to stop others from flocking into the U.S. “Close the border!” people cry. I would like to ask them how exactly anyone can possibly “close” a border that runs more than a thousand miles through deserts. And what would they have border officials do when they see an eight year old boy or girls walking through desert toward them? Shoot them? Simply turn them back—to walk many miles through scorching heat to…where? They were probably dropped off a mile or two from the border, given a crude map, and told they are now on their own. If turned away at the border they (remember we’re talking about eight to twelve year olds in many cases) will have no one waiting for them where they were dropped off. They’ll simply die in the desert.
Many letters to the editors of newspapers in Texas and other Southwestern states express the most cruel, heard-hearted opinions about these children—as if they are all gangsters and criminals. Most are not. The most common “solution” proposed is “Return them to their home countries immediately—without any due process.” The problems with that are so obvious these writers must be either stupid or cruel or both.
First, many of the children would not be able to tell anyone exactly where their home is. They might be able to say what country they’re from, but returning them to their home countries would require permission from those countries—unless we drop them from airplanes with parachutes (something I think many Texans and others wouldn’t mind). Second, many of the children would be returning to locales where they would be snapped up by drug gangs to be used as slaves and eventually turned into gang members—probably to be killed at some point. Third, many of the children left their home countries because they were faced with utter hopelessness—for a decent human life. They were snared in endless hunger, lack of medical care, no education and violence all around them.
A famous poem on a plaque inside the base of the Statue of Liberty says “Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Perhaps this plaque should be removed or replaced with one that says “The golden door is now closed—especially to poor Central American children.”
Mr. Olson goes on to make a claim as to root cause that will undoubtedly raise some hackles:
The underlying problem that (so far) I have heard no one talking about is our American affluence, including conspicuous consumption and luxury, promoted to the world via movies and television as the result of “the American dream,” combined with our boast to be a “nation of immigrants.” While we do have our own poor in the U.S., most of them are living in the lap of luxury compared with many people in Latin America. And we love to show off our prosperity and affluence, even our luxurious possessions and lifestyles, to the rest of the world—including our neighbors. Then we expect them to stay away. But we are like a magnet to the poor next door. Who can blame them for being drawn almost inexorably to us?
He expounds so do read the whole thing.
I've not heard this expressed before and on one level I'll admit to wincing. But on the other hand, is there truly a valid reason for some of the extravagance seen in this country? Is there truly a purpose in all the luxury? Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating governmental intervention on how big homes ought to be or how much land someone ought to own but I do wonder, as an individual, why we couldn't impose our own internal limits on what we ought to possess should we have the good fortune to make a fortune.
Mr. Olson's points will not go over well but I do think they're worth pondering.
Ponder away and leave your thoughts in the comments.