Root of border crossings

It’s time to look at the real reasons this country is flooded with illegal immigrants.

The U.S. is seeing an influx of undocumented immigrants in historic numbers, many of them young children whom parents have entrusted to smugglers. According to U.S. Border Patrol statistics, more than 52,000 Central American children traveling alone have been picked up by authorities.

Those from Mexico can be returned to their country of birth immediately. But the same isn’t true of the kids from elsewhere. Under U.S. immigration law, they will be housed in America until their cases can be heard by immigration courts—a system that was overwhelmed prior to the recent surge. Research out of Syracuse University revealed that the courts were faced with about 370,000 cases as of March. Each one is estimated to take a year and a half at minimum to resolve.

In the meantime, the U.S. is housing and caring for the children. That’s not sitting well with a lot of folks, including those who showed up this week in Murrieta to protest the busloads of undocumented refugees who were being transported to a border patrol facility in that Southern California city. From there, they would be placed with family members around the United States under the supervision of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Those protesters successfully diverted the buses to facilities farther south, but they do nothing about the larger issue. The root here is that this is a humanitarian crisis. These innocent children are fleeing gang violence perpetuated by the drug trade, one the U.S. is complicit in by its so-called war on drugs, which only serves to enrich cartels and traffickers.

This paper has advocated for years for the decriminalization of marijuana as well as a comprehensive federal immigration policy. And those are just the first steps to helping stem the surge of undocumented immigrants. It’s hard for us to imagine the desperation they must feel, but doing so is the only way to deal with the issue.