Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Immigration Fears Fueled by Kids

Children, in incredible numbers, are crossing the borders of the US and they are coming unaccompanied in most instances. The number that will make the treacherous journey this year is expected to reach 90K and that's just in 2014. In 2015, the number of children will skyrocket to 142K if it continues at the current pace or accelerates. Kids making this journey alone are concern enough for all of us, but now we are hearing that there's another factor which wasn't considered by the US Government--disease.  The children are coming from very poor countries where medical care and vaccinations are not readily available.

Two cases of swine flu have been detected in two children who came over the boarder and the fear is that many other children may have been exposed and may be carriers of this and other diseases. Of course, while the concern is not to be taken casually, efforts must be made to prevent the panic seen in the 14th Century when Europe and parts of Asia were affected by "The Black Death."

People during the time of this plague locked themselves indoors believing that if they did that they would be safe. Of course, they soon found that it wasn't as easy as locking someone out, which they often did. The plague was among them but hadn't shown itself yet. Xenophobia abounded as anyone from other areas of the country found no welcome and were often beaten off with sticks to drive them away. But that was then and this is now.

The children will continue to come in the mistaken belief, espoused by their parents and persons who hope to make money from them, that they will find our country welcoming. As one TV commentator indicated, they find even the current conditions in the border facilities to be "luxurious" in comparison to what they've had before. I don't believe it's luxurious, but having a bed off the ground and some food and water must be very welcome to these poor kids. Sent north with no identification, no idea where they are going and no idea where they might find relatives, they are being herded like human sheep and bused to distant parts of the country.

Not all the buses carrying the children are welcomed and it is reminiscent of the 14th Century when you read that their bus was turned back by angry crowds. Where will they go and how to best care for them remains two primary concerns. With regard to where they will go, it seems the powers that be are forgetting the power of the media to help find relatives. 

One major Hispanic TV network offered to help by featuring the shelters and the children in the hope that a family friend or relative will come forth to claim them. I don't know what the status of this plan is right now, but originally no media were permitted into the shelters and, when they did enter with cameras, the faces of the children were blurred out.

What is being done to insure the health of these children? Are they to be housed until they can be deported? What about healthcare and innoculations? One country where children originally lived has, according to media reports, told the US not to send the kids back.  Then where will they go? This is worse than the fate of those in the 1980 Mariel boatlift from Cuba. At least there, most of them, if not all, were adults who had family waiting for them in Miami. These kids on the Texas/Mexican border are lost right now and caught in a bureaucratic tug of war that isn't exactly humane.

The world has shrunk in terms of those who come to our shores and planes carry passengers quickly to our airports from far away distant countries. It is, I suppose, our modern version of the magic carpets we saw in films as children. But now, the carpets also bring unwanted passengers and another may be waiting in Africa just as one came from the Saudia Arabian peninsula. The UN has already displayed its extreme concern about the emerging Ebola plague that has struck three countries. Medical personnel were so afraid and had so little in the way of protection that they fled the hospitals leaving patients to care for themselves. Villages have been deserted and this scattering has provided the virus a wide array of territory to infect.

What's the bottom line here? Our country cannot put its head in the sand regarding medical care for the kids from Latin American countries. Neither can we not continue to develop plans to fight deadly diseases no matter where they originate. Today, I read that, at last, there's going to be some government initiative regarding research in deadly or rare diseases. But how long is that going to take and will it receive adequate funding? 

Window dressing isn't going to do it anymore because now lives are really on the line.  Do we have to wait until some corporate executive or politician's relative, child or employee contracts one of the diseases and dies? It's tantamount to local municipalities erecting traffic lights only after a sufficient number of people have been killed by roaring traffic.

Swine flu now, Ebola later? You choose.