By Lynn R. Mitchell
The immigrant children crossing America’s southern border have been in the news for weeks but now the issue has come to the Shenandoah Valley. (See Valley protesters question cost of sheltering immigrants and 14 facts that help explain America’s child-migrant crisis.) Today at LynnRMitchell.com, we are taking a look at the issue.
On Saturday a group of 25 Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots gathered on the I-81 overpass in Verona to protest the government’s housing of immigrant children who are taking refuge at the Shenandoah Juvenile Center. They expressed concern about the cost, diseases, and security. A number of SVTPP members and leaders are in the video carrying yellow Don’t Tread On Me flags, American flags, and various signs.
Another group of 25 residents showed up with signs to ask for compassion for the children, many who are fleeing poverty, gangs, drugs, and unrest in their own countries while others are looking for family members already in America.
The Staunton News Leader’s editorial board wrote in Sunday’s editorial that the children, living alone and with an uncertain future in an Augusta County shelter, are not the problem (see The real threat to America).
“The bigger threat to our country comes not from these kids but from people who demonize them, whether out of ignorance, bigotry or paranoia,” they noted.
The editorial continued:
Some of these children are literally running for their lives from poverty and violence in their home country. Others are seeking family members already in this country.
And, yes, some may carry disease and have a criminal background. Sadly, the latter is true at almost every public high school in the country.
Regardless of these children’s individual situations, in America we have a legal system that allows them due process before they are deported and the capacity to care for them in the meantime.
This is, after all, America. They are, after all, children.
The question for many remains why someone would send children on a long journey with strangers to a faraway land. For many, it’s desperation (see The awful reason tens of thousands of children are seeking refuge in the United States.) President George W. Bush called us compassionate conservatives. Are we, still?
Meanwhile, border states are overwhelmed by the immigrant crisis and are running out of space for children at their facilities. States including Virginia can help lighten that load. But this is not a new problem for America. We need immigration reform. We need security at our borders. We need compromise and cooperation from both sides of the political aisle. Sadly, in today’s toxic political atmosphere, that is unlikely to happen.
Monday’s Augusta County staff briefing meeting included Tim Smith, director of the facility currently housing 29 immigrant children, who addressed supervisors. Five years ago the federal government approached the county and went into a contract with them to allow unaccompanied immigrant children to be temporarily housed in this area. The current contract runs through 2017. As of Monday there were 29 children who are screened within 24 hours of arrival for any health issues and given all all the basic immunizations (if they have not already had them): TB, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, measles, rubella, meningitis, mumps … the usual immunizations. In the five years and four months they have been accepting these children, there have been none with TB exposure.
SVTPP reps were in attendance Monday and will surely be there Wednesday night at the regularly scheduled supervisors meeting at the Government Center.
Our colleague Daniel Cortez has addressed this issue here at LynnRMitchell.com (see The Presentations of a County Fair and Virginia Latino Advisory Group meets amid illegal crisis) and other news outlets (Children may define Republican insensitivity). Guest poster Deborah Munoz also addressed it (Deborah’s family immigration story: Little has changed). Both Daniel and Deborah’s articles are reposted today.
Contributor and Augusta County Supervisor David Karaffa visited Shenandoah Juvenile Detention Center and talked with some of the children. Their stories are poignant as he shares in his post, Unaccompanied Child Immigrants in Verona, Virginia.
Our political cartoonist Kurt Michael posted his latest work, Red vs Blu: Immigration.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” –Matthew 25:40 (NIV)