Send the ‘Border Children’ Back to Central America

By Faye Anderson
Volume 25, Number 1 (Fall 2014)
Issue theme: "Illegal Alien Crimes in North Carolina"

American sovereignty is under attack. The asymmetric invasion of our southwestern border is aided and abetted by an army of open-borders advocates whose battle cry is: “We shall overwhelm.” Unaccompanied alien children from Central America are overwhelming the Border Patrol and immigration courts.

The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 has been turned on its head. A law that was intended to stop child trafficking, particularly sex trafficking, is being exploited by illegal immigrants who voluntarily pay smugglers to transport them to the border. As the New York Times reported:

What many can agree on is that the Wilberforce law was not enacted with the idea of dealing with the current flow of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors or providing an incentive for children to reach the border.

And who are these “children”? According to a Pew Research Center analysis of Border Patrol data, less than one percent of the children are younger than 1; roughly two percent are 5 or younger. More than half of the children are between the ages of 13 and 17, of which 84 percent are males.

The open-borders crowd’s strategy was to use the border crisis to gain a foothold alongside the so-called “DREAMers” on the hoped-for path to amnesty. But the strategy backfired. Fox News Latino reported:

In 2010, the immigration reform train had as its conductor undocumented immigrants who came as minors and who became known as DREAMers.

The DREAMers, many of them raised in the United States, transformed the dynamics of immigration politics, giving it a face by standing in front of television cameras and identifying themselves fully — first and last name — as they argued for a path to legal status. The House of Representatives actually passed a bill that would have given DREAMers a path to legal status, but the effort failed in the Senate.

All the while, a new force in the immigration debate was gaining momentum down south, though it was not making headlines and was not discussed in the halls of Congress: thousands of youths were appearing at the U.S.-Mexico border unaccompanied by an adult, and were turning themselves over to Border Patrol agents.

A few weeks ago, their numbers reaching a remarkable 60,000 since October, the kids from Central America barreled into the headlines and became the new face of U.S. immigration.

They also transformed the immigration debate — for the moment, at least. Where last year providing a path to legal status seemed a viable — indeed even necessary — part of any serious discussion on how to reform the flawed immigration system, these days the focus is on enforcement and cracking down on those who break the law.

The flow of illegals from Central America upended President Barack Obama’s plan to unilaterally defer deportation of millions of illegal immigrants. Embattled Senate Democrats forced Obama to delay executive action until after the November elections.

During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama told Chuck Todd he will create “a path to get legal” for “the millionsof people who are here, in many cases, for a decade or more, who have American kids” (read: anchor babies). He said “it’s the right thing for the American people.”

That will be a tough sell. Poll after poll shows the American people want Obama to secure the border and enforce current law. Indeed, the latest Pew Research Center survey underscores Todd’s observation that “the public’s not behind you.”

Few African Americans give a second thought to creating “a path to get legal.” It’s a high priority for only 20 percent of black respondents.

While Americans are the most charitable people in the world, the border mess in Texas is maddening. The World Bank estimates there are nearly two billion people worldwide, including millions in Central America, who live on less than $1.25 a day. It is madness to assume American taxpayers have an obligation to take care of every poor person who shows up at our border.

What about America’s poor? Charity should begin at home.

One in seven Americans, including 20 percent of military families, rely on food banks or food pantries, according to Feeding America. African Americans make up 26 percent of Feeding America’s clients.

The Census Bureau reports there are 42.7 million people — 14.3 percent of the U.S. population — with incomes below the poverty line. The national poverty rate for African Americans is 25.8 percent, or nearly 9.5 million people.

I live in Philadelphia, the poorest big city in America. The Pew Charitable Trusts reports the city’s poverty rate is 28.4 percent; among African Americans it’s 34 percent. That’s the official poverty rate. In reality, nearly two-thirds of black Philadelphians are living in poverty or at poverty. A whopping 40 percent of school-aged children live in poverty.

There is a correlation between poverty and education. One out of five adult Philadelphians have not graduated from high school. As we go to press, the School District of Philadelphia is standing on the precipice. Superintendent William R. Hite announced the 2014-2015 school year will begin on time, but the schools will have even fewer resources.

The City of Brotherly Love has the highest rate of homicide in the country. Philadelphia is on pace for an annual rate of 14.8 homicides per 100,000 residents, according to the Gun Crisis Reporting Project. By contrast, Chicago’s and New York City’s homicide rate is 12.6 and 3.45, respectively.

The leading cause of death of Philadelphians between the ages of 15 and 24 is homicide. Eighty percent of homicide victims are African American males. In the summer of 2014, four innocent children under the age of 12 were killed in “Killadelphia.”

Where do the children of Philadelphia go to escape poverty and violence?

The invasion of illegal immigrants from Central America is no joke, but a comedian captured what is at stake. Paul Rodriguez, a legal immigrant from Mexico, was interviewed by CNN anchor Don Lemon:

DON LEMON: So Paul, let me start with you. We’re a nation of immigrants. Look out there tonight at the Statue of Liberty. We have compassion for children. Why are we so divided in this country as to what to do about this problem?

PAUL RODRIGUEZ: I don’t think we are divided. I think America has its heart in the right place. We need to be compassionate. We need to be strong and enforce our laws.

It is precisely why we should make it clear in these countries [...] regardless of the — of the trauma that they’re obviously going through. But name me a Latin American country that doesn’t have poor people. We have to set laws. We have to let them know that it isn’t the land of milk and honey, that life isn’t easy here.

You know, my heart goes out to the parents that have to traumatize their kids to go through Mexico. They must go through terrible abuse. But at the same time, if we accept these children and we don’t repatriate them, it’s only going to send out a clear signal to everyone in Latin America that, if you get to America, you will stay here. And then, if you think those numbers are big now, it’s hard to trust the statistics.

LEMON: People may be surprised to hear that coming from someone who is an immigrant.

RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. But, you know, there are ways to come to this country, you know. There are ways; there are legal ways. Look, once they’re here, I’m not saying [this]to be cruel to them or anything like that. But if we — if we accept — let’s say we accept these children, we let them stay here in America, we give them good homes, what is this going to say to everybody else? Are we prepared to be overwhelmed? Because that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Exactly. Send them back.

About the author

Faye M. Anderson is a public policy consultant and data journalist. Faye blogs about illegal immigration at