George Graham

When Children Invade



Unaccompanied children are swarming into America across the Mexican border. They come from such impoverished  Latin America countries as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

U.S. authorities estimate the number of those children will total between 60,000 and 80,000 this year, and the surge has prompted federal authorities to turn three military bases into shelters.

The conditions under which these children – some as young as 5 – are being housed are shocking and shameful (see photo).

And many of the migrating children are reportedly subjected to nightmarish sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the smugglers who help them cross the border.

So what does House Speaker John Boehner think President Obama should do? Send in the troops, that’s what!

Boehner sent a letter to the President on Friday calling for National Guard troops to go to the border and – and what? Gun down the kids?

Children have been crossing the Mexican border without their parents for years – for decades even. But not in today’s numbers. The surge has snowballed. I understand it’s being precipitated by criminals who promise the parents the kids will be allowed to stay once they get across the border. These criminals take money from the pitifully poor parents to transport the kids.

Once they cross the border, the children are on their own.

Only someone as callous as John Boehner would imagine that there’s a military solution to this problem.

To the rest of us, it’s a humanitarian challenge.

Any American with a conscience must feel a twinge of responsibility for the poverty that drives Latin American parents to give up their precious children in hopes of a better future for them – a future in the Land of Opportunity.

For such children have no opportunity in Guatemala or Honduras or El Salvador. They belong to a permanent underclass firmly kept in place by a militarized elite. And throughout history, American governments have fostered this system, relying on it to provide a stable environment in which American corporations can make huge profits.

The atrocities committed to further such policies are legendary – and legion. And many were committed with American complicity, even in some cases, with American involvement.

When the children of the poor and oppressed come swarming into America, it’s these perverted policies coming home to roost.

I am sure President Obama will pay no attention to Boehner’s horrible proposal. Indeed, I understand from Bloomberg Business News that:

The U.S. plans to spend $9.6 million to help Central American governments repatriate citizens who’ve crossed into the U.S. illegally. The money is intended to enable El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to expand existing repatriation centers and services, according to a White House statement. 

And I suppose that’s a laudable beginning. But there’s much more to be done.

America owes a huge debt to countries in this hemisphere, which US corporations have plundered freely for generations. And the President can make a payment on that debt by caring for their throw-away children.

The administration has asked Congress for $1.6 billion to help the Unaccompanied Alien Children program handle the surge. Perhaps that money could be used to provide humane conditions for the vulnerable youngsters.And perhaps a program could be devised to give the kids an opportunity to be adopted by American families.

Of course, there are Americans who would be outraged by such proposals. And these inhumane people seem to have a lot of political clout these days.

In the current political climate, it is probably impossible to accept the children in America and care for them. But at least America can make sure they are returned to their countries in a humane manner. And in the long term, policies should be introduced to help make their home countries lands of opportunity for all, as these little ones envisage America to be.

Photo above shows detained children sleeping in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Brownsville,Texas.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool)

See one facility housing 500 children.

Click for an example of US policy in Latin America.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for