In The News
Austin, Texas—Thousands of unaccompanied minors, sent here by desperate parents, are at the center of America’s latest immigration crisis. Since October, more than 52,000 children have been taken into custody while trying to seek asylum. Most are from Central American countries, which face extreme poverty and violence.
President Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion to ease the problem, which is overwhelming border towns and court systems. While Mexican children are quickly sent back across the border, a 2008 law meant to fight child trafficking requires that Central American children receive a court hearing first.
Smugglers often mislead parents, saying their children will be reunited with relatives already in the United States. But thousands of young immigrants have landed in crowded detention centers and shelters throughout the Southwest.
Although the White House is calling this a humanitarian crisis, it’s also urging Central American parents to stop sending their children here. Many Republicans say the president’s failed immigration policies have led to this problem—and that children are being used as pawns.
Some people say the United States is morally obligated to help these kids. Pediatrician Alan Shapiro, who co-founded a medical-legal partnership to help unaccompanied minors, said, “Their life experience is marked by multiple traumas in their home countries, on their journey north, and here in the U.S. As a society, it’s our responsibility to heal them, not to compound the trauma.”
But columnist Charles Krauthammer says the president must change the law so Central American kids can be sent home immediately. “Then do so under the most humane conditions,” he advises, and “the influx will stop.” Otherwise, “tens of thousands more will come.” After all, Krauthammer notes, “When has there not been violence and poverty in Central America?”
Sources: npr.org, foxnews.com, nbcnews.com, nytimes.com, usatoday.com
* * *
Discussion Questions for Student Small Groups
What’s your reaction to this huge influx of unaccompanied minors? What might lead parents to take such drastic action? When might trying to help people actually end up hurting them?
In your opinion, are people taking advantage of the United States? What responsibility, if any, does our country have to all these innocent children from troubled nations?
Should these kids be sent back home, even if it means they’ll return to dangerous situations? Why or why not? How many of our own nation’s resources, if any, should we commit to easing this situation? When people’s safety is at stake, is it heartless to consider what resources we can spare? Explain.
Are you willing to give up some of your “entitlements” to help illegal immigrants? Why or why not? What might these unaccompanied minors eventually contribute to American society? Does this potential make up for any resources they’ll use along the way?
How tight do you think America’s borders should be? Who should receive the welcome mat, and who shouldn’t? How should our government decide when to make exceptions to immigration rules?
How might Christians and churches respond to this wave of young immigrants? If we provide aid to some children, will that just encourage more people to break the law by coming here? Explain.
In what ways do you identify with these kids? When do you feel like a “stranger” here on earth? What makes you eager—or desperate—to reach your heavenly home?
When have you felt like an outsider trying to gain entry to a particular group? When have you needed to seek assistance during a time of need? How do those experiences help you empathize with unaccompanied minors at the border?
What sacrifices have your parents made to ensure you’re safe and have opportunities? How does it make you feel to see people go to such extremes for their kids?
Scripture links: Exodus 2:1-10; Exodus 22:21-27; Leviticus 25:35-38; Matthew 18:1-6; Matthew 25:31-46; and Hebrews 13:1-3.