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Talk about a real head-scratcher of a problem: Just mix together all the disparate elements of the plight of children separated from their families for good reason or ill at this country's porous border. There's no quick solution or maybe no solution at all for the problems they present.

Let us begin to count the ways these kids may be a danger to themselves and to others. All the way from Michigan to Arizona, some of the youngest had finally been released from federal detention after being held by the authorities. They were then told to wait for further proceedings that would determine whether they would be allowed to stay in this land of the free and home of the brave or be deported to their native countries, which many can't even remember by now.

It was a heart-rending sight as what should have been one family reunion after another turned into an occasion for tears and fears. A 27-year-old Honduran dad said his 3-year-old boy didn't recognize him, not at first, when they were finally reunited in Phoenix after being separated at the border. "I asked him," said the boy's father, "if he was upset with me. And he just looked at me. He didn't say anything, and then I prodded him and he said yes. It broke my heart."

A specialist in the laws governing immigration to this country and an advocate of reuniting families, Abril Valdes, reports that three of the dads were just holding their kids "and hugging them and telling them that everything was fine and that they were never going to be separated again." But other mothers and fathers still await news about whether their children will be reunited with them.

What's an innocent child to think as he's bounced around from pillar to post and back again in this tragic game? It's no game to them. They must remain beyond confused by all these goings-on--and maybe wondering what fate will befall them next.

Nor is it a game to a federal judge named Dana Sabraw, who's ruled that children age 4 or even younger within the court's jurisdiction have to be reunited with their folks by July 26. That group numbers under 3,000, according to the federal government. But so far no word has come down about what will happen next to these kids or what their parents can expect in the way of reunifying these scattered families. So much for an administration that claims to prize family values.

Ricardo de Anda, another lawyer who tries immigration cases, has among his clients four children under the age of 5 who were being held by the Feds in Phoenix and New York City--and he says:" I'm in touch with all their mothers and nothing has happened. There's a tight group of asylum lawyers down here [in Laredo, Texas] and no one jumped out to say their client was reunited." It's a puzzlement, and both an American mystery and an American tragedy.

Judge Sabraw says upwards of 60 of the kids could be set free to join their families if only the government would streamline this whole process. These aren't just goals, says the judge. "These are firm deadlines." But how seriously will his order be taken? It remains to be seen whether the government will take its duty to reunite these families seriously or this whole sad story is only To Be Continued.

For only God may be able to help these families and their little children; our own government has shown no great inclination to do so as yet. So pray for all these children and the mothers and fathers now reduced to desperately searching for them. Lest more sad stories continue to fill the news pages.


Paul Greenberg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer and a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Editorial on 07/18/2018

Print Headline: Suffer little children

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  • Foghorn
    July 18, 2018 at 7:22 a.m.

    We need comprehensive immigration reform, and that DOESN’T mean open borders. We need a way to far more rapidly process and return those who cross, with their children intact throughout that process. Unless they require medical care or unless an adult is determined to be a wanted criminal, it should not take more than a few days to photo and fingerprint them, evaluate their health, clean, feed, provide a change of clothes, and then put them on a bus home. They should not be allowed to stay while their asylum requests are considered. They can do so from their home country. Keeping them indefinitely is expensive insanity. Separating children does nothing to deter immigration.

  • Foghorn
    July 18, 2018 at 8:43 a.m.

    Anyone who thinks the current immigration program is a good idea should read an article in today’s Politico which highlights how the costs of housing immigrants is at $1.5M per day and climbing. Dept of HHS has funneled $40M from other programs like medical research and rural healthcare in just the past 2mos, and there are plans to divert another $200M. This is unsustainable.

  • 23cal
    July 18, 2018 at 9:15 a.m.

    18 months into the Trump administration and finally Greenberg posts something which isn't pure bootlicking. Will wonders never cease?

  • 0boxerssuddenlinknet
    July 18, 2018 at 6:42 p.m.

    paul, tell their parents not to break our laws. and to go home and build their own country with a workable government.