What on earth do you do when a eight-year-old lands on your doorstep?
I heard two spokesmen on the radio today with answers – the first told a story of a lone girl, one of the border children, who after being repeatedly raped by gangs in Honduras, trudged or rode on the tops of trains, clinging to boxcar roofs, 500 miles across Mexico to arrive in Texas hollow-cheeked with hunger.
The other spokesman explained half the border children hadn’t trudged across Mexico alone at all – they’d been carried by smugglers paid by families who were desperate to get their sons and daughters out of El Salvador, Honduras or Guatemala.
Of course, up in Congress, Republicans say Obama’s to blame for the whole mess. He threw open the door to the border children when he decided not to deport the “Dream Children.”
And the Democrats, of course, say Republicans are ogres with no hearts.
And, finally, President Obama wants Congress to give him $3.7 billion to deal with the crisis – which comes to $74,000 per child.
So with all this passion and all these political agendas clouding the rhetorical air who can we believe? And how do we figure out what we ought to do?
In a way the answer’s simple: If a weary, bedraggled eight-year-old turned up on your doorstep one night would you turn him away?
No. Lord willing, you’d lend him or her a helping hand.
Beyond that, since there are 50,000 children on our doorstep, there’s one other question to ask we have to answer: Are these children refugees or illegal immigrants?
Because if a child’s fleeing in terror – whether it’s from gang rapes or other sins – well, to put it bluntly: In America we help refugees. We may not make them citizens. But we don’t turn them away either.
And if these children are illegal immigrants? If they’re not fleeing from violence or abuse?
Well, then, like all runaway children, we return them to their parents.