Fast Focus: 'What should we do with the influx of immigrant children?' Short- and long-term solutions

July 6, 2014 

The current surge of immigrant children from Mexico and Central America is obviously a humanitarian crisis of epic proportion. Here in the U.S., we're obviously caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

In the short term, our response must be in accord with our nation's established pattern of civility and charity. If the kids that are detained at the border have friends or family already in the U.S., they should be paroled to those friends or family, without looking too hard at their immigration status. After all, it is entirely reasonable to speculate that children who travel unaccompanied to our border -- usually putting up with hardships along the route that most of us can only imagine -- must be on a mission of last resort. They probably have nothing to go back to in their countries of origin. It is said that being able to experience empathy is the sign of the truly intelligent person. What intelligent person would not appreciate these kids' desperate attempts to escape grinding poverty, constant hunger or abusive circumstances -- to name a few reasons why they might want to travel to the U.S.

In the long term, the only viable solution is to focus our efforts on economic development to the south of our border, in our own hemisphere. Where are we going to get the cash to make a real effort to improve the living conditions of our neighbors? Frankly, I am no fan of pouring billions in U.S. resources into the Middle East and Africa, while the citizens of countries much closer to our borders are suffering from the effects of underdevelopment. I would just as soon spend my tax dollars closer to home.

I have said many times, that I don't mind paying taxes in order to support a civilized society. Our immigration problems are going to continue until our neighbors enjoy a reasonable standard of living. Oh, and one other thing: Given our aging population and declining birth rate, who is to say that an influx of young people won't be helpful to us in a few years?

-- ERIC NORDLOF, Kennewick

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