IT WAS TERRIBLY embarrassing to watch some of the citizens of Artesia, N.M., display their callous disregard of the plight of the Central American refugees on PBS this past week. I suppose their Christian values did not include those who were seeking refuge from terrible living conditions in their countries initiated to a great extent by policies of our own country.
The U.S. is responsible for a great deal of the circumstances that have driven these people from their homes. The gang violence is a by-product of the gangs in Los Angeles, who are extending their reach into Central America driven by the drug wars.
NAFTA has been known for decades to be contributing to the decimation of small farms who cannot compete economically with farm prices in the US. Manufacturers use the people by paying low wages and denying unionization so they can maximize their profit margins. We have meddled politically, backing dictators whose only interests have been self-serving with little regard to the welfare of their people.
Immigration reform will not alleviate the struggles of those who live in these countries. We must take responsibility for the political, economic and social damage we have inflicted. People do not easily leave their homes unless they are forced to do so by circumstances they cannot control.
I APPLAUD Win Quigley (“Past U.S. policies helped fuel immigration crisis,” July 15) for reminding us of the enormous harm that U.S. policy brought to Central America and to parts of South America as well. In support of corporate profits, the C.I.A. destroyed governments. The chaos that followed has greatly contributed to the current situation.
The parents who send their children off are no different than the parents in Germany before and during the WWII. With violence, hunger and uncertainty at home, the chance that a child might find a safe haven here may be the only hope that parent has. Kindertransport saved lives. We also had children sent here from Cuba during their revolutionary period.
Sending children back to Guatemala, Honduras or Nicaragua is cruel punishment. This crisis demands more of us. Around the world, nations are responding to massive population destabilization due to war — in Africa, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere.
While we work harder with Central American governments to support programs there, we cannot abandon these children that are here, knowing that to stem this tide will take time and creative solutions.
We who flaunt the United States as a paragon of virtue would do well to see ourselves as the rest of the world sees us as we respond to this need for compassion with angry rhetoric.
SANDRA F. PENN, MD
Lousy neighbors for U.S.
LINDA BAIRSTOW states (July 10) that the border crisis currently underway involves “citizens of an international world.”
As these world citizens attempting to enter the U.S. illegally will create a financial burden, the taxpayers may wish for a world entity to which to send the bill. Of course no such entity exists, so productive members of our society must put even more aside for even more strangers. This is on top of the already overwhelming burden facing this country.
The children among the illegal entrants are indeed an asset. Central American countries are shooing away their most valuable assets with the assistance of Mexico. These actions are typical of basket-case economies. Think of these countries as you would that lousy neighbor who moves into your well-kept neighborhood and parks his jalopy on blocks in his front yard and then asks you to babysit for free indefinitely.
Hold politicians accountable
SCORE ANOTHER goal for Winthrop Quigley! His column (“Past U.S. policies helped fuel immigration crisis,” July 15) hits the target of the root causes of the “crisis” now playing out on our border with Mexico.
It has more to do with our government’s policies and actions four, five, and six decades ago than with current policies. Yet we see politicians and pundits blaming it on Mr. Obama. Our own governor tried this a week ago and, in the same issue of the paper two pages later, Jonah Goldberg blames it all on (President) Obama.
I’m reminded of the inscription on the building on Guadalupe Street next to the Jean Cocteau theater in Santa Fe: “A Nation That Forgets Its Past Has No Future.” The same policies called out by Mr. Quigley were in play in Vietnam and again in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Will we need to admit political refugees from these latter two countries as they both descend into more political strife and violence? Media can play a large role in keeping the political discourse on a more honest and factual basis by, rather than just reporting what politicians and pundits say/write and holding them accountable for facts and for the ridiculous utterances that so often simply are reported without comment or interpretation.
Hearings for all unrealistic
EVERYONE IN Washington and elsewhere should be in the same corner regarding the strain this huge influx of immigrants is putting on our nation. A drizzle of them offers enough debatable solutions – when the numbers increase to 180,000, it is a different story. We must expedite their removal.
If we attempt to provide legal services and individual screening we will never see the end of it, and meanwhile we are housing and feeding them while they are here. Imagine the cost involved and the logistics. America has enough on its plate regarding the current immigrants to even think of admitting thousands more.
Of course there is “credible fear” in these people, for that is why they are leaving their countries. We are always trying to do the “right thing” but we just can’t do it in this magnitude. It is sad what the women, children and families are escaping from but the U.S. cannot rescue everybody.
Those of us in the border states already have unresolvable immigration issues to deal with without this influx. Send them all home.
Albuquerque attorney Olsi Vrapi faulted Obama for “fast tracking the deportation process and that it is a travesty.” Waiting until these tens of thousands are interviewed and their cases sent before an immigration judge is just undoable.
We have a refugee crisis
JONAH GOLDBERG’S July 15 column (“Obama’s policies sowed seeds of immigration crisis”) is rife with misleading language and outright dishonesty.
Goldberg’s position seems to be that the immigrants are drawn across the border by President Obama’s changes to deportation policy for minors – a “pull” hypothesis. In fact, all evidence points to the surge in refugees being driven by changes is conditions in their home countries – a “push” hypothesis.
Goldberg doesn’t mention Honduras – where half the refugee children are from – once in his article. This is strategically astute; if he did, anybody googling Honduras would see that the homicide rate is 90 per 100,000, the highest in the entire world and nearly 20 times the rate in the relatively violent U.S., and they would learn that criminal gangs in Honduras have started to recruit children the same age as the refugees. This is a far more plausible explanation for why the crisis is starting now.
Neither does Goldberg mention Nicaragua, a country where poverty and unemployment are nearly as bad as Honduras. Nicaragua is just across a completely unguarded border from Honduras, yet very nearly no refugee children are coming from there. If he had, your readers could find out that Nicaragua has a murder rate half that in Mexico. If rational economic interests were driving this migration, the rate from Nicaragua would rival that of Honduras. Nevertheless, the rate of Nicaraguan children entering the U.S. illegally is very close to zero.
I was gratified to see that your own Winthrop Quigley got the facts right on the front page of the Journal, showing far superior judgement and journalistic integrity than the higher-paid columnist run on the opinion page.
The only problem with Mr. Quigley’s article was the title: this is a refugee crisis, not an immigration crisis. These children aren’t coming to the U.S. because they want a better life here; they are coming to the U.S., fleeing conditions the U.S. helped create, because they fear losing their lives altogether.
BENJAMIN GRANT JONES