The border of responsibility: Should we be taking care of immigrants?

The Dallas Examiner | 7/21/2014, 10:06 a.m.
Every year, the United States deports 400,000 immigrants who entered Texas illegally. Recently, the number of immigrants entering illegally has ...

The Dallas Examiner

Every year, the United States deports 400,000 immigrants who entered Texas illegally. Recently, the number of immigrants entering illegally has increased dramatically, with the majority of them being children traveling unaccompanied by an adult.

Though immigration has been an issue of concern for many years, the recent rise in numbers has created an emergency situation with no easy answers.

Each non-U.S. resident that crosses the border is entitled to due process. And the legal process can take up to one year. While some immigrants have been deported, many more continue to cross into the country. In the meantime, the government is obligated to provide housing, food and other essentials.

Many of these children have families in the U.S. and are crossing borders in hopes of being detained so that they may reunite with their families. And they will have to be processed as well.

The surge of illegal border crossings has caused a great deal of controversy, protests and counter-protests in states along the border – sometimes sparked by missing information or misinformation by political figures and mass media.

County Judge Clay Jenkins is in the process of making arrangements for 2,000 of those children to stay in Dallas while they are being processed.

Like most Texas residents, Jenkins supports increased security at the border. But it doesn’t mean we don’t take care of these children who have crossed the border and are in Texas now.

“Dallas County will partner directly with the federal government,” Jenkins said. “We will identify facilities and we will work to open those facilities to them at 100 percent federal expense so that we can provide compassionate care and complete wrap services, that’s education, medicine, psychological, etc. to the children who are scared and alone on our border.”

Jenkins said the move to provide shelter to the children, who are staying in holding facilities, was neither a political issue nor an attempt to enter an immigration debate.

“Children deserve to be taken care of compassionately and they’re here now and we have to take care of them in this country, so we want to do in Dallas County what we can do to help the federal government with that responsibility,” he said.

Many in our community have mixed feelings about the government funding care for the immigrant children who have come to this country illegally. They are concerned that the government is not taking care of children who are already living in the United States legally and do not have adequate housing and food.

The question is, do we need to make a choice? Does it have to be an either/or situation? Shouldn’t we do the humane thing and provide for these children?

America is comprised of generations of people who came here from other countries, some illegally. Immigrants make valuable contributions to our economy. They make up a large part of our workforce. Many perform jobs at lower wages that no one else will do.

These children are not our enemies, and they’re not “a problem.” They are human beings trying to escape a situation that is bad enough to risk their lives and everything they know in hopes of living a better life in the U.S. And though some will meet the criteria to stay, most will eventually be deported back to their country. But while they’re here, we must treat them with the dignity and respect that we would want our loved ones to be shown. After all, we don’t know what the future holds. The person that you show kindness to today, could be the very person who you call-on tomorrow.

Join the conversation. Send your letters to mbelt@dallasexaminer.com.