State, national columnists

Show of force won’t stop influx of immigrant children

By From page A7 | June 26, 2014

Most often when we think of a “humanitarian crisis,” we visualize desperate displaced families in Third World or war-torn countries, starving and diseased children dying in their mother’s arms or large populations in faraway lands left homeless by some destructive act of nature.

Now the term is being applied in Texas as we have a humanitarian crisis on our doorstep.

The sad thing is that, except for some grandstanding by state leaders trying to make political hay of the situation, no one is quite sure what to do about it.

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children, most from Central America, have crossed the border into South Texas. They have filled Border Patrol stations and special shelters set up to care for them temporarily as they are processed through our already clogged and inadequate immigration system.

There is a charge from some politicians that the influx of more than 47,000 youngsters in the past few months proves that our borders are not secure, and that we must get tougher on these illegals headed for the United States to escape the poverty and violence of their own countries.

Three top Texas officials – Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker of the House Joe Straus – last week authorized spending $1.3 million a week for a “surge operation” by the Department of Public Safety to secure the border and protect Texans from the ills of illegal immigration.

“Texas can’t afford to wait for Washington to act on this crisis, and we will not sit idly by while the safety and security of our citizens are threatened,” Perry said. “Until the federal government recognizes the danger it’s putting our citizens in by its inaction to secure the border, Texas law enforcement must do everything they can to keep our citizens and communities safe.”

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner wants President Obama to deploy the National Guard to the border to address the problem.

That’s a complete misunderstanding, or perhaps a deliberate misrepresentation, of what is happening on the border.

First of all, we’re talking about children and, in some cases, single mothers who are apprehended on entering the country. Because they had traveled across Mexico to get to the border, many are so tired, hungry and thirsty that they seek out the Border Patrol to surrender.

Rather than posing a threat to the safety of American citizens, they instead are posing a dilemma for all the leaders of this country who don’t know what to do with them once they’re here, and don’t know how to discourage others from continuing to come.

The idea that more DPS or National Guard troops on the border will stop this flow is ridiculous. Unless they’re planning to shoot the children while they’re crossing over, a show of force is not the solution to this problem.

Under the law, minors from countries that don’t border the U.S. who are caught illegally entering the country must be taken into custody. But because they can’t be held longer than 72 hours at Border Patrol facilities, they are sent to shelters where they are housed, fed and educated while awaiting an immigration hearing.

The Department of Health and Human Services contracts with the shelters, like the one run by Catholic Charities in Fort Worth.

But the situation will become more dire. Officials estimate that there may be as many as 90,000 new young immigrants in the country by the end of the year.

A Senate committee last week approved a bill that would provide $100 million that could be used to address the crisis, but money alone won’t fix it.

Instead of the political grandstanding, our state and national leaders need to work together on this issue, realizing that they are required by law to do what is in the best interest of the child.

Then Congress needs to get busy and pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

But don’t hold your breath for either.

Bob Ray Sanders is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Readers may write to him at: 400 W. 7th Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76102, or via email at [email protected]

Bob Ray Sanders


Discussion | 22 comments

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  • DanielJune 26, 2014 - 7:23 am

    How did these extremely impoverished migrant children all of a sudden come up with the $3,000 to pay the coyotes to come to the U,S? Who's paying it and instructed them to come at this time while Obama is pressuring the GOP to hand out dual citizenship amnesty? Or is this all mere coincidende like the destruction of the IRS and EPA subpoenaed emails?

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  • rlw895June 26, 2014 - 7:38 am

    Your first question is a good one. Morphing it into an anti-Obama conspiracy is either insane or a joke.

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  • DanielJune 26, 2014 - 8:01 am

    RLW there are many more questions than who's paying the $3,000-$4,000 bill to the coyotes for the thousands of children? Who is the source of and giving them the verbal legalize words to parrot when they come here so that they can remain and request amnesty and free dual citizenship? Who ordered the border patrol the mission to abandon their posts securing the border and become taxi drivers? How long are the borders going to be completely open and who else is crossing besides the children maybe drug cartels and Al Queda? Just like the IRS and EPA obstruction of justice, the magnitude of this event is being mostly ignored by the lame-stream, it's going affect all of us including you libs, like it or not.

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  • rlw895June 26, 2014 - 8:14 am

    OK. Not a joke.

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  • clancyJune 26, 2014 - 9:05 am

    I agree with Daniel. It seems the adminstration does not want this stopped. The question is why? If they wanted it stopped they would line up buses and bus them right back over the border. Are we incapable of building a wall or huge fence to help secure the border? The labor could be done by prisoners and / or public assistance and welfare recipients

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  • clancyJune 26, 2014 - 9:55 am

    Does anyone have an opinion ad to why our government does not want to stop illegal immigration? It is clear they don't want it stopped the question is why? I myself have no clue because they could stop it easily if they wanted to

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  • clancyJune 26, 2014 - 10:09 am

    It would cost a lot less to bus them all back than yo keep them in camps. Why can we not secure the border? Why can't a huge wall or unsalable wall be built? The labor could be done by prisoners or able bodied welfare recipients.

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  • clancyJune 26, 2014 - 10:11 am

    I keep posting a comment about building a wall or fence to secure the border and it keeps getting taken down why?

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  • NemoJune 26, 2014 - 2:24 pm

    Taken down? The fence or the comment?

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  • clancyJune 26, 2014 - 10:14 am

    Is it my suggestion we use prison labor or welfare recipients for labor?

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  • clancyJune 26, 2014 - 10:16 am

    And I agree with Daniel if they have no money how are they getting here I'm the first place? Someone for some reason wants them here.

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  • patrickJune 26, 2014 - 12:23 pm

    It is the commander in chief's job to protect our borders. Now, who is that?

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  • clancyJune 26, 2014 - 12:39 pm

    Patrick well said and why does he not want to ? I know we have the ability

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  • A real mess....June 26, 2014 - 3:07 pm

    As for those that wonder why the flood of illegals are coming, do a search for Cloward and Piven. Also, it has been advertised in various Central American news media that the US is handing out benefits, and if you make it, you won't be turned away.

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  • clancyJune 26, 2014 - 3:25 pm

    But why are we allowing it why are we handing out benefits why are we not turning them away? That's what I wonder.

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  • JagJune 26, 2014 - 4:57 pm

    Clancy I did hear that the U.S has an agreement with Mexico to catch and release Mexican people back to Mexico but we do not have the same agreement with any other countries below Mexico that is why I do think it is a good idea to use the military or the national guard to block them before even entering, some will say if we turn them away and send them back south that will cause death and I admit I don’t have compassion so if that is what happens then so be it. the main reason we need to stop them is because Ninety percent of the mostly-teen illegal immigrants flooding over the Mexico-U.S. border won’t show up for their immigration court hearing, meaning at least 135,000 of the youths will simply vanish into the country this year alone, according to a key House committee chairman.

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  • PornacJune 26, 2014 - 5:32 pm

    Those kids and moms need to be given a good scare so they don't come back. We don't want those poor brown folks on our soil.

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  • 2realJune 26, 2014 - 5:42 pm

    Give em a scare?good luck. The countries these people are coming from are way scarier then anything you can do to them. And for the record, theres chinese immigrants asian immigrants african immigrants indian immigrants and so on so forth.

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  • mike gregorJune 26, 2014 - 7:55 pm

    Look it's an exodus plain and simple. Mass amounts of people are lined up for the American dream. Get ready the insurgent camps like the Japanese, Germans, and Italian suffered during WWII.

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  • mike gregorJune 26, 2014 - 8:32 pm

    In fact that's a workable solution. Insurgent camps can provide a gateway into the American society with goals , or work visas and a legal citizenship.

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  • clancyJune 26, 2014 - 10:44 pm

    Jag thank you for that information. I agree with you we need to make it stop

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  • John DutcherJune 27, 2014 - 2:31 pm

    Dear Mr. Sanders, your "Show of force" column was printed in the Fairfield Daily Republic newspaper on Thursday, June 26. It was a thoughtful and informed piece and I appreciate having read it. I especially liked your call to leaders and legislators to do what is in the best interests of these children. During world wars, the U.S. provided a safe haven for children of other countries. We should do the same now. Thanks again for your column.

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