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Should we offer asylum to the children crossing the border into the U.S.

Demonstrators hold signs and flags outside the Mexican Consulate on Friday, July 18, 2014, in Houston. The sharp contrast in how Americans are reacting to the immigrant influx mirrors the divisiveness seen in Congress. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Demonstrators hold signs and flags outside the Mexican Consulate on Friday, July 18, 2014, in Houston. The sharp contrast in how Americans are reacting to the immigrant influx mirrors the divisiveness seen in Congress. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

It was close to 35 years ago that Fidel Castro, due to the softening of the Carter administration’s stance on Cuba, allowed Cubans who wanted to emigrate to the United States to do so. But he also took that opportunity to empty his prisons and mental wards and sent them as well to America.

Whatever sentiment of sympathy there was at the time ( I could remember none ) soured as many of these “marielitos” had been sent to detention centers around the nation.

Fast forward to today. Things don’t seem too different – only now we’re being told that those who are crossing our border are children.

While we can debate whether or not they are “children” – one question lingers.
Do we have an obligation to take them in as refugees?

A recent poll suggests that a majority of Americans thinks not. Then, some others feel differently about it:

 

“This country is built with immigrants, but those immigrants who came from Europe and all over the world didn’t demand all the things that they are demanding now,” said Brand, a 60-year-old Democrat who works as a Spanish interpreter for a health care provider. “When my grandchildren are old enough to collect Social Security, there may not be enough money. There may not be enough for me.”

And that’s pretty much the concern locally, as we’ve already taken in as many as 15 hundred of these immigrants, with many heading to Freehold and other towns in Central Jersey.

According to another report, Rita Dentino, the director of Casa Freehold said the following:

When asked if the children who are arriving in the community will be enrolled in the Freehold Borough K-8 School District, Dentino said that is not likely at this time.

“We do not have a way to enroll them in school yet,” she said. “They need to have custodial care and also have access to health services. Children have a right to an education, but we need to go through the proper process. Their immigration status, however, has nothing to do with the right to an education in this country, but the bureaucratic process requires a custodian to care for the child.”

Dentino said Casa Freehold does not have the resources to help these children.

“The larger question is how do we, as a community, properly care for a child arrival with no connection to family? We should welcome any child refugee,” she said. “It is our duty as human beings.”

Answering with an emotional response – while never helpful – is understandable – especially given the tepid response on the part of government officials to handle the crisis.

But do we have this moral responsibility to take them in as refugees in the face of our borders being breached constantly?

You be the judge.

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