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What to do about the children at the border?

English Spanish

There is a corridor along the countries of Central America, going through Mexico and ending in the United States, that is used by criminals called “coyotes” and drug traffickers to bring undocumented persons into this country. It has been in use for many years, thanks to the complicity of local governments, corrupt policemen, and those who want to earn money unlawfully in this new industry that generates millions of dollars in profits.

The latest method is to send unaccompanied boys and girls, exposing them to being raped, robbed and killed on the long journey to reunite with their families – if they have one, because some arrive with no family ties in the United States. Many people and politicians are now raising their voices about this crime, but without offering a solution to this serious problem.

The root of the issue is the poverty that exists in many of the Central and South American countries. The lack of employment and political corruption that makes public funds disappear on a daily basis result in families lacking the basic means of survival.

The United States of America is referred to as a country of immigrants; we know that is true. Unfortunately, we forget it, and many of us disagree about new immigration policies that may provide legal status to the more than 12 million persons who live and work here, and who are not criminals. We simply look the other way and focus on our interests. Many even forget their own folks living in the “old country,” not wanting to know anything about them. 

I can confirm that not just the U.S., but other Latin American countries also have immigration problems.  Countries such as Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Panama receive many brothers and sisters without visas, who come looking for work because they suffer from hunger. When they are discovered, they are repatriated to their countries of origin.

The solution to this problem is to create conditions in these countries so that no one has to emigrate, by making sure there are jobs that allow them to feed and educate their families. President Obama recently held a meeting with leaders of several Central American countries, and offered funding to solve this issue. What will happen? Sadly, based on experience, nothing is going to change because most funds will end up in the pockets of the corrupt, and the poor will remain hungry.

Various governments have posited that the root of this inhumane traffic lies in the misery in which many people in those countries live. This does not take into account the deafness and the blindness of the authorities, who should have warned their people about the great dangers that the children would be exposed to when sent North on such a perilous trip.

Our organization, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, has conferences or groups in all the countries of Central and South America. One-hundred percent of every dollar donated to the Society goes to the needy, because we have no paid employees (we are volunteers), office or administrative expenses. Our Society maintains a twinning program through which our conferences in North America know the needs and the leaders in other countries. Funds are destined to establishing projects such as chicken farms, cattle and farming to provide the employment opportunities that are now lacking.

Everyone knows the adage: "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime." If we do that in all these countries, I am sure that their people would never send their children and grandchildren to an almost certain death.

If we all do our part, we can help. Do not leave these decisions to the government; in fact, let us suggest to the government that it utilize these means instead of putting money in the pockets of corrupt politicians who are more concerned about their personal gain than the people who elected them to their positions.

For more information, contact the St. Vincent de Paul Society at 305-474-9010.

Comments from readers

clementina salloum - 08/06/2014 11:28 AM
Es tan facil detectar el hambre por un pedazo de Pan, y sentirnos consternados por quienes lo sufren. Sin embargo, y lamentablemente, el hambre moral, es tambien desgarrador, porque no nos permite darnos cuenta, de que si somos capaces de dar vida a la Compasion, que se postra de rodillas ante quien sufre, no solo para llorar con el o con ella, hablar por el o por ella, pero para buscar JUNTOS, la solucion
Pareciera que en este tiempo tan dificil en el mundo entero, el rostro de los Ninos reflejados en las guerras, como en el grupo las ninas raptadas en Nigeria, en el riesgo que estan tomando los ninos, por llegar a USA, escapando de la pobreza moral y material,que los rodea con toda su realidad, nos estan dando un mensaje posiblemente como, "Signo de los tiempos", en el que Dios nos envia un gran llamado, en forma dramaticamente dolorosa y especial
"Dejad que los ninos vengan a Mi" nos dijo Jesus, nuerstro Salvador, la Verdad, Camino y Vida!
Sera que es nuestra respuesta a Su llamado por la compasion y proteccion de la Infancia a nivel Universal, es en donde encontraremos la mejor solucion?
Amar a Cristo, no es solo llevar nuestra propia Cruz, pero aliviar el peso de Su Cruz Eterna, llevando con el la Cruz de nuestros hermano, por una Resurreccion Comunitaria, Universal, no solo individual
Si les parece correcto, otorgo permiso para publicar esta opinion
Michele MacEachern - 08/04/2014 03:48 PM
Thank you, Mr. Martell, for your years of volunteerism and for your insights into the dilemma of emigration by children (who are often without family in the U.S.). I would like to add that these innocents are NOT usually ECONOMIC refugees. On the contrary, their parents send them here at great risk in order for their sons and daughters to be safe from civil war, criminals masquerading as local government officials, or human traffickers back home.
Lisa Kubis - 08/04/2014 11:55 AM
This is one of the best articles that I have read on the immigration problem. I learned alot from it. I only thought of SVDP as a local ministry. I never thought of the bigger picture. Prayers to all.

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