Here's Real Trouble

For several weeks, the NYTimes (and probaby other media) has been running stories about the increasing number of unacommpanied minors crossing the Mexican border into the U.S. When they are found and seized at the border, they are sent to shelters. Increasing numbers have required new and ever larger shelters. "Since Oct. 1, a record 47,017 unaccompanied children have been apprehended at the southwest United States border." A few may be reunited with a parent/parents in the U.S. illegally; some may be deported; and some may be held in the shelters until the immigration service/courts adjudicate their cases. Times' story June 4.

A variation on the story is that mothers and children come across the border with the expectation that the Immigration service will treat them more leniently (than men). Such stories and/or rumors have increased the influx of children alone and mothers with children. The "push" is said to be increasing violence and poverty in Central America. The "pull" is said to be U.S. leniency toward children, and women with children.

How could this not end badly. The shelters are or will soon be overwhelmed; stories of abuse and rape will emerge. Republicans will argue that this is why there can be no immigration reform. And the Obama Administration will be accused of not protecting U.S. borders. Any other scenarios?

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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