Local column: To offend the little ones

The Trump Administration appears to be making its own problems to solve. But how does that help Americans — or anyone else? writes Louise Wagenknecht.

I never had children, but I am a great-aunt several times over, so the destiny of my collateral bloodline concerns me. According to many climate scientists, the future of their Midwest home includes extreme heat, drought, severe weather events, exotic tropical diseases, and the cornbelt moving inexorably toward the Arctic Circle. If they survive into middle age, they may be desperate to move themselves and their children to Canada. Will they be welcomed, or refused?

By 2050 or so, our polity may well have conquered Canada so that Texans can camp out beside the iceless Arctic Ocean. We will no longer care about the southern border by then, but people from Mexico and Central America will find little enough comfort on the deserted plains of New Mexico and Colorado.

But that’s only one possibility for our future. In this reality, right now, unauthorized border crossings have been falling for a decade, even as people granted refugee status in the United States have brought in $63 million more in tax revenue over the past decade than they have cost. We learned this from an internal government report, commissioned by the current administration, which recoiled in horror at the unexpected results, and promptly buried it, but not before it was leaked to the press.

In May of this year, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Diego said that if prosecutors had to focus their energy on parents apprehended with children, it would divert them from pursuing felonies like drug smuggling.

Recently, Customs and Border Protection officials said that the Justice Department and other agencies did not have enough resources to bring misdemeanor charges against every family apprehended at the border. The CBP commissioner also asked how he was supposed to detain charged parents and children together when the law forbids holding children in jail indefinitely.

Notice the words these officials use: family, parents, parents and children. They know that these are refugees, mostly women and children, fleeing drought and violence and societal breakdowns that owe more than a little to a hundred years of Uncle Sam’s political and economic meddling in Central America. And they are only the first of many more refugees to come.

There is little evidence that the current administration has any desire to help poor Central American countries solve the underlying problems which have led to the outflow of refugees.

Indeed, its first reaction has been to reduce aid to those countries. We have imprisoned thousands of children and their parents, and our president and his allies now control all the mechanisms of coercion.

Who will come to their aid, or ours?


Louise Wagenknecht is a writer based in Leadore.


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