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EDITORIAL: Give Us Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses?

7/23/2014, 3 p.m.
A callousness, cynicism and meanness seems to have taken hold of sections of this country and it's being exhibited most ...
**FILE** An officer distributes juice at a Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas. (Courtesy of cbp.gov)

A callousness, cynicism and meanness seems to have taken hold of sections of this country and it’s being exhibited most clearly in the influx of more than 50,000 Central American children here.

Since the children crossed into America, people have voiced their support or opposition as to whether the children should be allowed to stay or sent home.

Immigration and what the government should do to or for almost 12 million undocumented immigrants has roiled the country. There’s little agreement whether to allow those already here illegally to stay; be punished, fined and put at the back of the proverbial line to get their papers; or be unceremoniously carted back to countries of their birth.

The children’s arrival has added fuel to the flames of an already ugly debate. There have been protests, angry meetings with state and local officials, and citizens in states being considered to house the children stoutly resisting efforts for them to stay there.

Why are the children here? They say they are trying to escape gangs, violence, grinding poverty and other social and political problems wracking their countries.

In this, America is dealing with the fruits of unintended consequences. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton began the deportation of immigrants – with or without green cards – for felony crimes. That resulted in tens of thousands of people being sent back to the Caribbean and Latin America. Many weren’t even born in the respective countries and without a support system, jobs or money, they resorted to crime. It is that crime which has driven these children north.

Another reason is that in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan financed right-wing regimes which brutalized and murdered citizens from places like Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Too often, the political and social elite stole foreign aid money that was supposed to help develop institutions and infrastructure, so desperate people voted with their feet.

Maybe it’s because we’ve been throttled by a stubborn recession, economic woes, unemployment and other challenges, maybe it’s xenophobia rearing its ugly head, maybe it’s just a nation turning inward.

Whatever the reason, we as a country should never turn our backs on those in need and suffering from problems the U.S. created. To those who say we can’t afford it, one way to pay for this is to scrap the F-35 boondoggle and its estimated $1.45 trillion price tag and use that money to take care of these children.