Treat the disease
The influx of minors from Central America challenges us to control our borders while upholding basic ideals. We should consider the following:
A 2008 anti-trafficking law states that minors can't be turned away at the border without a hearing to determine if they're in need of aid. This law must remain intact.
Minors should have legal representation during trials. The government isn't currently required to provide lawyers to illegals but it is required to provide a fair trial. Many children go unrepresented. Such hearings can't be fair when federal lawyers are pitted against children who may not speak English and who may be unaware of how to request representation.
Raising the number of refugee visas is helpful, but it's not enough. We need to make the application process user-friendly. People in violent, poor regions are desperate and may not have the time or opportunity to access traditional immigration paperwork.
Deporting children to Central America, even to send a strong message, is an expensive way to treat a symptom, not the disease. Violence and destitution will still drive people to the U.S. border. If we place our efforts into helping Central America, illegal immigration may decrease; if we fight against cartels, we will protect innocent people and ourselves from actual criminals.
America is a country of freedom and justice. We face great challenges, but our commitment to these ideals is only validated during times of testing.
Sue Kelley, Oklahoma City
An atheist was allowed to open a town council meeting in Greece, N.Y., on July 15. This would be humorous if not so serious. The atheist concluded his remarks by urging the town board “to honor the enlightened wisdom and the profound courage of those 56 brave men,” referring (I assume) to the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
If we were to actually do that, to honor the Founders' “enlightened wisdom,” it would lead one to believe a Christian prayer would be in order. An honest reading of nonrevisionist history, and know-ledge of the lives and writings of “those 56 brave men,” could lead you to no other conclusion. Local, state and national leaders do this country a great and dangerous disservice by backing so easily away from our founding principles.
There was no uncertainly of thought among the Founding Fathers on the fact that our hard-won freedoms came from divine providence. This was so obvious that the need to legally define the term would not have occurred to them. Our leaders need to exhibit some of the bravery we so rightly ascribe to those 56 men. I fear those 56 would find many of today's leaders severely lacking.
They were in it for “the common good,” not for personal gain, glory or power. They had no doubt of the fate awaiting them if they failed. I would suggest that this is what caused them to be very focused on their foundational beliefs.
Don Ukens, Hooker
A win-win suggestion
According to the Obama administration, an estimated 60,000 unaccompanied alien children will illegally cross the southern U.S. border this year, up from about 6,000 in 2011. To put this figure in perspective, OSU's Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater has a seating capacity of 60,218. Perhaps the best solution to this crisis would be for the U.S. to increase foreign aid, assistance and trade in the three main Central American countries from which these minors came, but only on the condition of them being returned.
This would be a win-win all around. The children will be seen as heroes in their homeland for inducing concessions from the U.S., which will help alleviate the turmoil in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. However, if the current political impasse continues, an unsecured border will paradoxically fix itself. This country would become more and more like the countries from which illegal aliens fled, as America slowly transforms into a less attractive destination.
The time has come for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Cole Herndon, Oklahoma City
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