At this point I've heard nothing beautiful about this situation. It's a crisis in the making--one that goes far beyond physical needs and it's on its way into every neighborhood. With all I've learned about human trafficking, perhaps nothing sickens me like the recent reports of the thousands of children coming unescorted into this country. Already in Arizona, hundreds of kids are packed into warehouses with inadequate food, medical care, or other basic necessities. Evidently chain-link fences enclose these precious children in conditions quite similar to those during Hurricane Katrina. Yet maybe it's even worse because these kids came to America without their parents.
I can't help but wonder about their supervision? Who is caring for these kids? Children as young as nine have crossed the border alone without proper documentation, afraid of the authorities, and likely unable to speak the language. In some cases (such as for those from Guatemala), it is said they fear gang violence--although it is also reported that is not true. In America, however, these children really do need to fear gangs involved with modern-day slavery. And there is little doubt that is true and that the kids are like sheep being led into the wolves' den.
Unsupervised illegal immigrant kids are a problem ripe for human traffickers to exploit. Especially because some of those children may soon be bussed to cities around the country and dumped on street corners where everything will be overwhelming and foreign. And they will have no means to support themselves. Traffickers will appear all the more charming as they groom these children for life in the sex trade.
According to Doug McIntyre, a columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News, "When President Obama announced a moratorium on the deportation of children, he opened the floodgates. The Associated Press reported last week that U.S. Immigration and Customs Endorcement expects to catch 60,000 children attempting to enter the United States illegally this year, a tenfold increase since 2011." And, that's only the ones being caught. ICE estimates that only 1 out of 5 is taken into custody. The rest (perhaps as many as 300,000) are on their own.
So apart from meeting the physical needs of these children--the ones who are caught--my question is who is going to parent these kids? Who is going to nurse them when they are sick?
Welcome to Port Huenme. Within the next week or so this problem comes to a 42,000 sq. foot.building located at the naval base in Ventura County, California. To read some reports makes itsound like going to summer camp. However my understanding is that an estimated 600 kids will initially arrive at a facility intended for 570. And, I'd bet more will follow. I'd like to know where is FEMA getting all the supposed "sponsors" and have adequate background checks been performed? Who is giving oversight and instruction to these kids and who is paying for it? Even more, who is comforting those that are scared and homesick? If we can't manage our own foster care system--and it's well-documented that we can't--how on earth does anyone think this is a doable situation. And, we all know how well FEMA did with the aftermath of Katrina. This is another hurricane of horrendous proportions.
McIntyre reports that President Obama has already "asked Congress for an emergency appropriation of $1.4 billion to house, feed, clothe, and transport the thousands upon thousands of children his policies helped lure across the borders." But the costs will be far greater than that as the problems continue to escalate. And, I'm not talking about the Office of Management and Budget's correction of our president's lowball figure to $2.28 billion.
McIntyre well-said that "the president's policies actively encourage thousands of parents in Mexico, Central and South America--even parents from as far away as Finland--to roll the dice on their children's lives by handing them over to coyotes often employed by the world's most notorious drug cartels." Anyone involved in the abolition of human trafficking knows the lure for poor families to send their kids to America where they'll receive an education. Many of these kids will end up not in warehouses but as modern-day slaves.
The children who get caught by the U.S. government will likely be the lucky ones even if they are warehoused until they come of age. And then they'll be put out on the street with no one to protect them. Unless maybe people decide to get involved. Any ideas for what we can do? For one, I'm going to start making noise with my elected officials, and I won't stop until things change. What else? How can we help make it a beautiful day in the neighborhood?