According to official reports, nearly 10,000 children arrived at our southern border last month without a parent – three times more than in February of 2020.
Although some are struggling to define and quantify the extent of the situation, there’s little doubt that it’s a growing humanitarian crisis, especially as facilities explode beyond capacity.
Why is this happening? What’s going on? And why should we care deeply about it?
While it seems obvious that many of those coming across the border believe President Biden’s immigration policies are more favorable to them than President Trump’s, this current crisis has been years in the making.
In part, it’s the combustion of tyrannical, oppressive regimes driving desperate people to exploit inconsistent and unenforced American immigration laws. Even more, its the result of politicians doing what appears politically expedient and ignoring the long-range consequences of those actions in exchange for short-term results.
Many of us appreciated President Trump’s principled position on border security and his commitment to streamlining legal immigration during his four years in office. He and his team didn’t always get it right, but I visited the border in 2019 and was impressed with the cleanliness and efficiency of the facilities.
Our southern border is being run by impressive teams of upstanding individuals. They carry the burdens of those in their care empathetically and seriously. They were overworked and underpaid back then – and now.
But now President Biden is in charge, and he’s facing a significant crisis in the opening months of his administration.
At the outset, it’s important to recognize that America remains a country where people are willing to risk their lives to enter it. You won’t find people sneaking into Cuba, Venezuela or Russia. That’s why we’re a nation of immigrants. Go back far enough and virtually all of our families have come from somewhere else.
To be sure, immigration policy is complex, but getting it right is critical for many reasons, but none more so than because it impacts the sanctity of the family.
Media reports indicate that thousands of children are sleeping on mats, and up to three thousand teenagers are being shuttled to a Dallas convention center to live. Where will they go from there? How will we handle the thousands more arriving each day?
Some officials have indicated some of the children have been found with slips of paper scrunched up in their hand that contain a name and a phone number, presumably somebody they were to call upon arrival in America. Perhaps those are the fortunate ones. What about the rest with no contact or lifeline?
Can you imagine being in elementary school and getting dropped in the middle of a foreign country with only the clothes on your back?
Regardless of our political party, our faith demands that we urge our elected representatives to find a humane and God-honoring solution that best preserves the integrity and sanctity of the family unit while also protecting our borders and assuring the safety of our citizens.
We must hold our elected officials who have encouraged this crisis accountable – and we must pray for those innocent children caught in the fray.
America remains a beacon of freedom – but until we establish a clear strategy and the intestinal fortitude to follow existing laws relate to newly arriving immigrants, the current morass will only deepen and worsen.
Please join me in praying for these children and for the collective wisdom of our elected representatives.
Photo from ADREES LATIF/REUTERS