Immigration: “We Are Better Than This”

From a Google Image Search – The Cut

Immigration: “We Are Better Than This”

A warehouse full of children. An air conditioned warehouse full of children with concrete floors, no beds, only two scratchy wool blankets. An air conditioned warehouse full of cold, anxious children with too few adults to care for them – children sleeping on concrete floors who have not been given clean clothing or a chance to shower or even a bar of soap, a towel, and a toothbrush. Does any of this sound like America to you? But it is happening in America. It is happening right now in America.

We have a President who has told us that the people coming across our southern border are animals. Do you believe that he is telling the truth? Are these people dangerous? Are they less than human? Why are they coming? The President thinks it is a planned challenge to his immigration policies, that Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador (the Northern Triangle countries) are “pranking” him somehow. Reporters who have visited these three nations tell a different story however. They tell a story about a once fertile triangle of farm land shared by these three nations. They tell us that the land is no longer fertile because the rainfall, once predictable, is now erratic. There are long periods of dry weather in recent years followed by too much rain all at once. This disruption in the usual water cycle could be temporary, but it could be due to climate change. The area is also threatened by gangs of men who snatch girls for trafficking purposes or for their own use and who snatch young men to increase memberships. These gangs are at war with each other and innocent citizens are killed in the ensuing violence. 

People usually love the country they were born in. They don’t want to leave it. If large numbers of people are migrating from one country to another country far away there is always a reason for it. People migrate when their home nation cannot offer enough food, or enough safety, or any opportunities for a better life. People of means may travel out of a sense of adventure, or to broaden their experiences, to enjoy other cultures and the beauty of foreign places. However, unless they stumble into a place they know is unstable and hostile, tourists do not end up sleeping in warehouses with concrete floors. And neither should people who are seeking asylum from a nation that no longer offers a viable life to its people. 

We cannot solve problems that arise from climate change, especially with an administration in charge of America that does not believe in climate change. But offering aid to a nation in need is something that we do know how to do. We cannot get rid of local gangs. We are not even doing well with keeping our own gangs under control. But we do know that when people are offered opportunities to learn a trade or get a college degree and find employment violence tends to decrease and the influence of gangs declines.  Aid can also be perceived to be nation building, can be seen as imperialistic interference done for personal gain rather than altruism, so the way help is offered matters. While giving aid it is not polite to see what resources you can steal from a nation that is suffering.

If one way to tackle the flow of migrants is to improve the conditions in the home nations, another way is to streamline our procedures for handling migration when it happens. Denying migrants access to the laws that govern immigration does not seem to stop people from immigrating. Separating children from parents does not seem to discourage the flow of immigration. Denying children showers and soap and toothbrushes may make them miserable but it doesn’t make them disappear (unless they die). Is that the plan? To let squalor do its work. Is that a plan Americans can live with?

“We are better than this.” Whenever I listen to panels of experts talk on my news channel (MSNBC) someone always says this. We can do better than taking children who came here with a parent or who have a contact who is a relative already in America, than housing them in a cold soulless shelter, leaving them in wet diapers and dirty clothing, allowing them to live with lice, and sending them to bed hungry with only a scratchy blanket for company. We are America. We are organized. We are humane. We are a can-do nation. If the system is overwhelmed then hire more people. Warehouse supplies, not people. Better yet, don’t detain children at all. Set to work immediately getting them to their destination if they have one, or finding them a family to act as a temporary sponsor. 

What the President would like to do is immediately deport them, but the law says they have a right to a hearing. He says that if they are released with a hearing date they will not return. Statistics say that the return rate is really good for adults. How do you give a hearing to a toddler who may be nonverbal? Applying the same practices for children that we have for adults makes no sense. HHS (Housing and Human Services) is full of experts in the care of displaced children. They should be called upon to suggest ways to handle minors separated from parents or guardians. Many experts have been making valid suggestions without getting much attention.

The chaos we are seeing in the immigration system is due to this administration’s attempts to solve the problem by circumventing immigration laws, in other words by using approaches that are lawless, approaches for which there are no precedents and no organizational plans. Orders are given and they must be accomplished although no resources are offered to accomplish what the administration wants. If everyone is to be sent back home why aren’t they loaded immediately onto planes? Because no logistics have been designed to make this possible. So migrants seeking asylum are caught between a rock and a government-engineered hard place and they cannot solve their own dilemma. But we can. “We are better than this.”

Survey – Immigration/Migration

child detention centers

On September 12, 2018 the New York Times gave us the newest figures on migrant children who are being detained in the U. S. Many of us were shocked to learn that the number is now 12,800 and that our government does not plan to reunite these children with their parents who may have been deported. Many of these children also arrived here unaccompanied by their parents. Here’s how the NYT’s article begins. Please follow the link if you want more details.

“Even though hundreds of children separated from their families after crossing the border have been released under court order, the overall number of detained migrant children has exploded to the highest ever recorded — a significant counternarrative to the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce the number of undocumented families coming to the United States.

Population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer, according to data obtained by The New York Times, reaching a total of 12,800 this month. There were 2,400 such children in custody in May 2017.

The huge increases, which have placed the federal shelter system near capacity, are due not to an influx of children entering the country, but a reduction in the number being released to live with families and other sponsors, the data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services suggests. Some of those who work in the migrant shelter network say the bottleneck is straining both the children and the system that cares for them.”

Once again the two parties have adopted different words to refer to these children with Republicans calling them immigrants and Democrats calling them migrants. Please take the following survey and see the directions that follow it.

survey 2 Newcastle West Cham of Comm

Survey  (Circle your choice)

Yes.         No        I like the Trump approach to immigration

Yes.         No.      I think we should build a wall

Yes          No.       I think we should accept zero immigrants across our southern border

Yes.          No.      I think these children should be kept here and placed in foster care after every effort is made to reunite them with their parents or relatives

Yes.          No.   I want these children sent out of the country

Yes            No.   I approve of the Trump’s plan to spend $20 millions taken from the foreign assistance budget to pay Mexico for plane and bus fare to send 17,000 immigrants to Mexico

Yes.           No   These children are migrating because of fear about their fate at home and should be allowed access to due process to determine if they qualify for asylum

Yes.          No.  Assign more judges to expedite the cases of these children.

Yes.          No.  Hold demonstrations across America to bring pressure on the administration to adopt a more humane approach

Yes.          No.  Appoint a committee of citizens to examine approaches to immigration/migration that others have suggested (perhaps a Move On initiative)

Yes.          No   Open the US southern border for a year and study what happens. Allow people to move freely back and forth across the border.

Yes.          No.  Close the border between Mexico and America down completely except for designated entry zones until a plan is in place that works.

Yes.          No.   Enforce the southern border laws with towers and a shoot-to-kill order.

Yes.          No    Migrants/immigrants may come in but cannot collect welfare, food stamps, or have access to free health care.

Yes.         No.   Respect the Flores ruling and do not keep children in detention longer than 20 days.


Offer your own suggestions for dealing with migration/immigration at our southern border:


Highlight the survey and copy it to a Word document. Print it out. Fill it in. Send to Migration/Immigration Survey, PO Box. 3876, Syracuse, NY 13220

Drawing: (To join in the drawing you must include your mail address. It will only be used if you are the winner. Otherwise it will be discarded after the drawing.


When we have received 50 surveys we will pick a winner, we will email the winner to get a mailing address and we will send you either the Armchair Observer mug or the Cheap Seats mug. You may specify which one you would like. If there is no email address we will assume you do not want to take part in the drawing although we will still count your survey as one of the 50.

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search,, Newcastle West Chamber of Commerce