The Children’s Crusade
In the thirteenth century, so the story goes, a young boy, living in either France or Germany (or perhaps one in each country), claimed to have been visited by Jesus Christ who charged him to lead a Crusade to the Holy Land. This was not to be a mission of war, but instead to peacefully convert Muslims to Christianity. An “army” of 30,000 was raised, but instead of triumphantly carrying out their charge, the children were instead sold into slavery, never to be heard from again. There are several variations on this tale; some modern scholars are skeptical of its veracity.
Today, it appears, a modern version of the Children’s Crusade is being played out here in the United States of America, with thousands of children, some as young as 3 or 4, arriving at our southern border seeking entrance.
The majority of these children are from Central America, primarily Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, not Mexico. Some come with their mothers, but many have been making the trek alone; as many as 53,000 unaccompanied minors have entered the country over the past eight months with no sign of stopping. Indeed, the Border Patrol expects at least that many more will be caught before year’s end. And that is only the ones that have been caught – although catching them is relatively easy as many walk directly up to the Border Patrol agents and voluntarily turn themselves in.
When questioned, their answers are remarkably the same; they left because they were in fear for their lives, either by gangs or other forms of violence, and they are here because they were told that if they made it here they would be given a permit to stay.
Here in San Antonio, space has been made at the former Kelly AFB to house some of those coming across; the same space that was previously utilized, ironically enough, by many rendered homeless by Hurricane Katrina. This space was once office space, containing the usual forest of cubicles one would expect from a large open area used by office workers. I was one of hundreds who helped clear those spaces nearly nine years ago. The area is pretty Spartan by any definition and not the sort of place you would want to be for any length of time. But, hopefully, not as bad as where they have been, as evidenced by these pictures, released by the Daily Mail.
Then again, perhaps not as these pictures from the former Kelly AFB can attest.
The pictures are shocking – what you would expect perhaps from a third world country, not from what is supposedly the richest country on the face of the planet. There have been reports of rape and abuse. The fact of the matter is, we don’t have the facilities to handle the sheer volume of people surging across our borders on a daily basis, particularly unaccompanied children, arriving in unprecedented numbers.
So why are they coming? What caused this sudden surge at a time when, so we have been told, the numbers of illegals in our country has been dropping, due mainly to our poor economy? And in particular, why the large number of unaccompanied children?
As I mentioned above, we are told that many of them come from Central American countries, some 1500 miles from the US border. It is hard to believe that unaccompanied children, some only 3-4 years old, made this trip; how did they make it up the length of Mexico undetected by Mexican authorities? How did large numbers of unaccompanied children on the move go unnoticed? How did they feed themselves? Where did they sleep? How many died along the way?
How did this rumor get started in the first place, that all they had to do was show up and we would take them in? It is so pervasive that it is even being reported on television in their home countries, where apparently it is “common knowledge.” And how is the US government “handling” the problem?
Our President insists that they can’t stay and will be sent back home “as soon as possible,” even as they are being bused and flown to various parts of the country. He has unveiled a plan to stop the influx, which includes sending almost $100 million in aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to “help reintegrate those we will be sending back and keep them in their home countries.” He is also setting aside $161.5 million this year (From where? And how? I thought allocation of money was in the legislative branch’s job jar, not the executive) for the Central American Regional Security Initiative program because, he says, the program is “critical to enabling Central American countries to respond to the region’s most pressing security and governance challenges.”
He has also sent a large number of immigration judges to the border to help deal with the legal backlog of sending them back.
Increased border security however is not part of the plan. We have plenty of cash it seems to spend in foreign countries to help “solve” the problem but as for our border forces – they have pretty much been told to stand down. We wouldn’t want to precipitate an international incident now, would we?
New “rules of (dis)engagement” for the border patrol include “refraining from blocking moving vehicles’ paths, or firing at rock-throwers unless in imminent danger.” Not sure what constitutes “imminent danger” from rock-throwers. If you have ever been hit by a thrown rock, you might think that the act of someone throwing one at you constitutes “imminent danger.” If you are a policy maker back home inside the beltway, perhaps “imminent danger” doesn’t happen until he has you on the ground, on your back, sitting on top of you with a 2-foot in diameter boulder poised above your head. Maybe not even then.
Border agents now even have restrictions on taser use. One thing is for sure – these guys and gals are seriously underpaid for the job they are not being allowed to do. Then again, perhaps these changes are a good thing after all; they really don’t seem to have much time for such things as patrolling the border and stopping your run of the mill drug smugglers, gun traffickers, gang members, and other illegals from entering the country. They seem to be busy these days with more practical matters, like changing diapers and “trying to separate boys and girls getting frisky in detention centers.”
And while the border patrol is tied up with this massive problem, who else is sneaking across our southern border (not to mention the northern one while all the attention is focused here)?
Governor Rick Perry of Texas has noted that “we have record high numbers of “other than Mexicans” (OTMs) being apprehended at the border. These are people that are coming from states like Syria that have substantial connections back to terrorist regimes and terrorist operations. So we are seeing record, historic high numbers of these individuals being apprehended.”
Ranchers in Texas also report the number of OTMs increasing. And increasingly they are seeing an increasing criminal element who think nothing of breaking into their homes, and who are increasingly combative – to the point that ranchers on or near the border, in fear of their lives, go armed at all times.
Lawmakers in Washington DC have called on President Obama to deploy the National Guard to secure the border. As reported in the Washington Times, “Rep Candice Miller, Michigan Republican and chairwoman of a key border security subcommittee, sent a letter saying that Border Patrol agents need to be put back on patrol duty rather than processing or babysitting for the children who have been caught trying to enter.”
Texans are becoming alarmed. Lawmakers in Austin are talking, in the absence of leadership from Washington, about the possibility of a special session of the Texas legislature to release funds to send the Texas National Guard, the Texas Guard, and all of DPS to secure the border. How the administration would react to such a unilateral effort by Texas is unknown. An online petition, “Request for Immediate Texas Border Control,” was posted on 14 Jun 2014. When I checked, there were already 5,672 signatures.
There is concern that this surge of underage illegals is going to trigger an upswing in the human trafficking business as well; both for free labor and sex. There are always unscrupulous adults willing to prey upon unprotected and vulnerable children.
Meanwhile, although the President may say that he thinks these kids will be sent back home, the reality may be otherwise. We have many laws in this country, and as is typical in a gargantuan bureaucracy, these laws are Byzantine and obscure, snaking their ways through multiple agencies, feeding multiple government programs (many overlapping), and totally unknown to the vast majority of citizens handing over a portion of their paycheck every payday to pay for them. One such agency is the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
ORR receives custody of illegal immigrant children, apprehended alone at our borders. The authority for this is conferred by the Homeland Security Act. The purpose is to reunite them with a family member or legal guardian already residing in the US, legal status notwithstanding. In other words, it doesn’t matter if the family member or guardian is here legally or not, ORR’s job is to reunite the family while the child is processed to be returned where they came from. In the process they receive a number of benefits; all charged you the American taxpayer, one of which is legal assistance.
ORR has an “outreach” program that puts these unaccompanied minors together with lawyers willing to work with them on a pro-bono basis. Many of these pro-bono lawyers are top notch and dedicated to helping kids stay in the US, avoiding deportation. And why not? Who can resist helping cute kids? And these kids have certain advantages that older illegals (who would love to get such free legal aid to help them stay in the country) do not.
If you are under 21, and can prove that you have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents, then you can be classified as having “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” or SIJS. And claiming SIJS status is much easier if you have a free attorney working on your behalf. SIJS waives unlawful entry, working without authorization, status as a public charge and certain other immigration violations. This opens the pathway to becoming a lawful permanent resident, able to obtain work authorization, and eventually apply for US citizenship.
And of course, if you are a minor, showing up at the doorstep all by yourself, it is much easier to show the court that you have been “abandoned by one or both parents,” isn’t it? Then once you have established US citizenship, you can, if you feel so inclined, get the rest of your family brought in as well. Kind of a reverse anchor baby sort of deal.
Meanwhile health experts are warning of a “humanitarian crisis’ brewing. When you come here legally, you have to jump through all sorts of hoops to gain entry; one of which is a health screening to show you are disease free. Not so for those who just show up unannounced. The enormous on-going influx of children is setting the stage for a potential epidemic of all sorts of infectious diseases coming into our country. And the cramped and crowded conditions they are being kept in only exacerbate the problem. Outbreaks of scabies, lice, dengue fever, MRSA staph infections and tuberculosis have already been documented. There are fears that others, such as norovirus, measles, chickenpox, and most worrisome, drug resistant strains of TB will show up as well. Most of these children have never seen a doctor, much less received inoculations against childhood diseases. Even such exotics (for most Americans anyway) as leprosy have not been ruled out.
Border patrol agents do not screen children for disease; they are only responsible for processing them before sending them on. Many of them are beginning to worry about picking something up and transmitting it to their families.
How many adults each year get sick from something their kids picked up at school? And they have had their childhood inoculations.
As these children are being shipped all over the country, people living where they are being sent are worried as well. In Lawrenceville, Virginia, where the HHS planned to shelter as many as 500 children at a recently closed local college, concerned citizens, objecting to the short notice and complete lack of community input forced the administration to delay implementation at least temporarily. Part of the objection was fear of disease. The same thing has happened in Illinois. These fears are, unfortunately, not unfounded.
What about more unsavory types, trying to take advantage of the current situation, and slipping across? A recent Breitbart report (24 June) revealed that in one weekend in McAllen Texas, US Border patrol caught murder suspects, multiple sex offenders, and an MS-13 gang member who had successfully crossed into the US from Mexico. The murder suspect, a Guatemalan wanted for an alleged murder in Florida, was apprehended approximately 85 miles from the border. The MS-13 gang member had previously served 10 years in prison for rape.
So far this year, the US Customs and Border Protection agency have reported arresting more than 40 previously convicted sex offenders attempting to illegally enter the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. How many have made it through without being caught? And lest you think that perhaps I am “over reacting,” or living in fear of others who “don’t look like me,” over 7,000 sex offenders have been deported from Texas in the past three years.
Some people, it seems, are not just here simply to pick cabbages or mow my lawn.
And of course, by now, you should know what the standard US government reaction is to an overabundance of illegals entering the US; catch and release. It’s bad enough when this is applied to ordinary Jose’s and Juanita’s who are just here to pick cabbage and babysit our kids. It’s worse when it is applied to sex offenders and gang members.
Yes, gang members. In fact, there are reports that some of the minors coming across are sporting gang-affiliated tattoos. And, if they have no US criminal record, they are being released to their families here in the US. This is reportedly affecting morale in ICE, to the point that some agents are looking for jobs elsewhere.
There are those in ICE, who believe this to be an orchestrated event. I agree. Who orchestrated it is an open question. Who benefits from it? Likely more than one entity stands to benefit. Surely, the current administration believes it is benefiting, as nothing substantial is being done to stop the flow; instead it is being used to excoriate the political opposition.
The administration has told us that this is a “humanitarian crisis” precipitated by gang violence in their home countries. Once again, just as they did in Bengazhi, when they told us that the attack on the US Embassy was triggered by a YouTube video, they are lying to us. The truth is, the mass exodus of children was triggered by President Obama when he stated that illegal immigrant children in the US would be able to permanently stay in the US. In the meantime, he has used the humanitarian crisis he himself triggered to push his “comprehensive immigration plan” and to slam Republicans while he tours the country on fund raisers for Democratic politicians; in between rounds of golf.
Once again, children are being used as a political football.
The Children’s Crusade of the thirteenth century was an ill-fated event. There are always plenty of adults willing to take advantage of children, and children are particularly easy to take advantage of. What is driving this current “children’s crusade” at our border seems to be politics here at home, not violence back at their home as we have been told, which is not any different than it has been for years. As usual though, I suspect, the real losers here are going to be the children. And the American people.