Hug the children, bill their countries


Editor’s note: In this week’s editorial pages, columnist Paul Danish and BW editor Joel Dyer tackle the same subject: children illegally crossing the U.S./ Mexican border. As you may have guessed, they come at this growing immigration crisis from somewhat differing positions.

What’s to be done about the flood of children illegally entering the United States?

Now there’s an easy question to answer. What would Jesus do? Or Abraham, for that matter.

Wash their feet, delouse and vaccinate them, give them three hots and a cot and generally treat them as honored guests. See to it that those who have relatives in the U.S. are united with them, and if those families can’t afford to care for them, ensure that they receive the necessary assistance. See to it that for the duration of their stays in the United States that they attend school. And so on.

A lot of folks will tell you that the United States is a Christian nation. Well in this case it should act like one. (It’s also worth recalling that it was not just kinky sex that led to Sodom and Gomorrah biting the big one. How they treated the stranger within their gates also had something to do with it.)

Oh, one more thing.

Keep track of every penny that federal, state and local governments spend on these young wayfarers and bill the governments of their home countries for it.

For example, say 50,000 El Salvadoran kids enter the U.S. illegally this year, and say we end up spending $10,000 on each one of them. At the end of the year send the government of El Salvador a bill for $500 million.

If it refuses to pay, seize El Salvadorian assets in the U.S. or impose other sanctions.

But wouldn’t having to pay off a $500 million bill destroy the economy of El Salvador? Quite possibly. So let the El Salvadoran government pay it off over 10 or even 20 years. According to the CIA Fact Book, the Gross Domestic Product of El Salvador is $24.67 billion at the official exchange rate, and its government takes in $4.68 billion in revenue annually. A $50 or $25 million a year bill would sting, but would still be within the country’s means.

The bill would only become burdensome if another 50,000 kids show up on America’s doorstep next year and year after year after that. So billing El Salvador — or any other country which is exporting its kids to the USA — for the upkeep of its children in the U.S. would provide those countries with a powerful inducement for keeping them home.

And how might that be done? Not by building border fences and trying to keep people from leaving by force, which would only produce more violence and tyranny and cause still more people to send their kids north, but by addressing the political, economic and social pathologies that cause people to vote with their feet — or their children’s feet — in the first place.

Those pathologies include criminal and political violence, economies that are sapped of their vitality by top to bottom corruption, the absence of the rule of law, which discourages both foreign and domestic investment, parasitic elites that have been treating common people like shit for the last 400 years, the inability or unwillingness of most Latin American polities to pay a decent respect to the concept of the loyal opposition, which is the bed-rock concept on which all stable democracies rest, and so on.

One reason this crap goes on and on and on is that it’s more cost-effective to export the up-coming generation of malcontents to the U.S. than it is to build societies in which people want to live in instead of flee. Making the governments pay for the support of their kids who are illegally in the United States, will provide some incentive for addressing the reasons why people want to leave; it would be much more cost effective to pay for a school in El Salvador than to pay the yearly cost of educating an El Salvadoran kid in L.A., for instance.

(El Salvador is an extreme case. Not all countries that are the source of illegal juvenile immigration are church-mice. Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, and Ecuador all have oil. Venezuela and Ecuador are members of OPEC.)

Billing the child-exporting nations for the care of their children also addresses the political crisis the refugee flood is creating in the U.S.

The American people are not about to allow thousands of children to die on their doorstep. They aren’t about to allow themselves to be emotionally blackmailed and played for suckers either — especially by people on this side of the border.

However compelling the reasons in Central and South America for sending unescorted children north, the proximate cause of the current influx is in no small part due to Obama’s unwillingness or inability to secure the border — and to his reckless use of his pen and his phone in a way that convinced tens of thousands of Central and South American parents that he would allow them to get their kids into the U.S. illegally.

As a result, fairly or unfairly, the current flood of child border crossers has the smell of the 1980 Mariel Boatlift to it — a humanitarian crisis deliberately created for political purposes — only this time with the perpetrator on our side of the border.

That in turn is unleashing political and social passions in the United States — especially in states along the southern border — that could easily turn violent.

My father once remarked that the genius of the English-speaking peoples was their uncanny ability to reduce all passions into matters of money.

The way to defuse the passions boiling on the southern border is to monetize them — pronto.

Still, wouldn’t it be dreadfully unfair for a rich country to shake down a poor one? Absolutely, but the money the U.S. would be dunning the refugees’ home countries for would be money that was spent entirely for the upkeep and welfare of their children. Asking a country to pay for the sustenance of its children isn’t a shakedown — anymore than asking a delinquent parent to pay child support is a shakedown.


This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.