Many years ago, there was a flood of immigrants to our shores. They were not from Europe or even Mexico. They were from Vietnam and we called them “the Boat People.” By and large, they were fleeing the Communist government of Viet Nam. Many of them were the wives and children of captured ARVN soldiers and government officials.
The refugees were picked up by the U.S. Navy. Thousands were allowed to settle in the United States where they were adopted by various church organizations (most of the refugees were Christian, which was itself a reason to get out). My church adopted a Vietnamese family which lived next door for a year (in 1979) in my Great-Grandmother’s house, currently “Choices,” in downtown Fairfax City.
As a sixth-grader at J. C. Wood Elementary, I walked two of the older children to school. They didn’t speak a word of English and I didn’t speak any Vietnamese. Basically, we communicated with hand signals and their mother rewarded me with some type of fish food, when I brought them home. (My mom told me to be polite and eat it — so I did).
In this way, thousands of foreign kids were folded into our otherwise-homogenous community. I lost track of that family, but I have no doubt that those kids and their younger siblings have become great successes in the USA.
I mention this in the context of the thousands of kids who are arriving at our borders in unprecedented numbers ….
1. To the extent that these children or their families remain in the USA (and that’s debatable), I highly doubt that the Great Republic will collapse if these kids are kept here, either temporarily or permanently. Eventually, they will be assimilated. They always are. I reject the concept that their presence is a “threat” to any community in America.
2. A larger issue — and one I don’t brush aside — is the problematic theory that any immigrant to the USA by any method is automatically entitled to benefits and protections and any attempt to repatriate is proof of (cue the word …) “racism.”
We have always made a distinction between political refugees and economic refugees under law. The latter can apply for asylum. The latter cannot. The Obama administration is bound by that Federal law, just like the rest of us. If a child crosses the border illegally and is not covered by any legal exemption, then he has to be returned. I have no objections to providing aid to these central American countries to feed its own population — but we can’t just absorb their surplus population.
So whither the issue of “immigration reform.” The problem I encounter in my law practice is the delays and red tape in obtaining the necessary documentation for legal status. I also agree that “DREAM Act” children raised in the USA, with a history of paying taxes, should be given a path to citizenship and state recognition. (Ironically, the General Assembly last year was pushing towards a recognition of that reality, see HB 747). Any reform to me means streamlining and simplifying the process to legal status, while recognizing those persons who have spent a significant share of their life in the USA and deserve to stay.
That doesn’t mean that people are entitled to cross the border at will or that the Executive Branch should be scared to enforce Federal laws — even in the face of liberal opposition. (Hey, if you’re afraid to make your friends angry, then you’re in the wrong business).
Regardless, if these children do remain in the USA, it will take individual communities and churches to step up and support these kids. Just like what happened many years ago.