There are new heartrending stories of calamity faced by migrant children at the southern border every day, with no end in sight. Make no mistake about it: President Biden’s partisan policies are driving the surge of unaccompanied minors. The responsibility to stop the exploitation of children rests with him. And until he reverses course, casualties will continue to compound along with the abuse and exploitation of vulnerable children and women.
Americans have been gripped by chilling video footage of a pair of two- and five-year-old sisters dropped over a 14-foot fence in the middle of the night by human smugglers and left to fend for themselves. Weeks later, we saw footage of a distraught 10-year-old boy pleading for help after migrants abandoned him in the desert.
They join the nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children in U.S. custody who have been apprehended along the southern border in March, an all-time monthly high.
And these are just the children who survived the perilous journey. We likely don’t know how many others did not, such as a 9-year old girl who drowned attempting to cross the Rio Grande with her mother and 3-year-old brother, or two teens who drowned fleeing police.
Even in U.S. custody, the hardship for these children does not end. They are crowded into detention centers where they can be exposed to or can expose others to COVID-19. They may also be victims of sexual abuse.
The situation these children face is distressing to anyone with a pulse. And yet, beyond the empathy we should feel is frustration over the fact that this situation was entirely predictable and totally avoidable.
Human smugglers and cartels are both creating and exploiting the chaos at the border to advance their goals of moving people, drugs, and weapons into our nation. They have admitted to reporters that they move unaccompanied minors from Central America by bus, car, boat, and even plane. They use the children as decoys for their other illegal smuggling operations.
Although border patrol agents have successfully busted smugglers attempting to transport fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine to the U.S., how many others slip past? Moreover, drugs are not the only dangers to society coming across our border. CBP has arrested an MS-13 gang member, a convicted murderer, child sexual predators and rapists, and a violent criminal—this week alone. Since October, dozens of sexual offenders have been arrested crossing the border.
Why is this happening now? Because of the change in American leadership and policy toward illegal migrants, which tempts them to try to gain entry into our country. As a Guatemalan smuggler explained, “It’s good to take advantage of the moment, because children are able to pass quickly. That’s what we’re telling everyone.”
Despite the White House’s feeble attempt to blame President Trump’s policies, as a Washington Post writer admits, their efforts “to play down the increase don’t hold up very well.”
I am a parent of two boys under three and I am also an immigrant from the Caribbean. My parents sacrificed everything to give their children a better life in America and to immigrate legally. I understand that mothers and fathers living in desperate and dangerous places view passage across the southern border by any means as the ticket to a brighter future for their children. Of course, these parents shouldn’t break the law to bypass a dysfunctional immigration process. However, in shifting immigration policy away from rapidly expelling unaccompanied minors, President Biden created a powerful incentive for the parents of migrants to flout the law.
Perhaps he sought to appease the far-left wing of the party that supports decriminalizing border crossings. Perhaps he wanted to paint a stark contrast to his predecessor. However, in his haste to undo Trump’s immigration policies, President Biden created the crisis, chaos, and calamity at the southern border right now.
The Biden administration was woefully unprepared for the predictable surge in young migrants and they still don’t have a plan to address the massive flow of children. A plurality of Americans disapproves of how he’s handling the situation.
It’s time for the administration to put aside the we’re-more-humane-than-Trump rhetoric. No one is buying it. President Biden needs to end the incentives for parents and smugglers to send kids across the border illegally and end this ongoing tragedy.