Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Two years ago in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, the brand new $300 million dollar Yangmingtan Bridge collapsed without warning. Privately, experts speculated that costs had been cut during construction, making the bridge an accident waiting to happen. Here in America, we also have many social accidents waiting to happen. For example, our own southern border security is so weak that it too is ready to collapse at any moment, with the right amount of pressure. Therefore, rescuing the wrong children could compromise our national security.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the number of unaccompanied children trying to enter the United States illegally has nearly doubled in less than a year. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports detaining about 50,000 children since last October, with thousands more crossing undetected. The children’s presence is complicated by the fact that 75 percent appear to be from Central America—mostly Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador—and so they are more difficult to repatriate than Mexicans. The surge is far beyond the capacity of our holding centers, so hundreds are being bussed and flown to various military bases and other areas around the country.

Many of the children are suffering from contagious illnesses, including but not limited to scabies, lice, strep throat, measles, chicken pox and swine flu. Public health experts are also worried about diseases like tuberculosis, which can be contracted through the air. Texas Border Patrol Agent Hector Garza told Breitbart Texas that 70 percent of Border Patrol agents were now reassigned to caring for the unaccompanied minors rather than monitoring the border.

The reasons so many children would risk such a terrible journey are not difficult to discern. The average per capita income in Honduras in 2013 was about 2000 U.S. dollars, and between $3,000 and $4,000 in Guatemala and El Salvador. The poorest in these countries live on just dollars a day, while various gangs control large portions of the towns.

Central American newspapers also appear to be encouraging the practice. La Prensa, a Honduran newspaper, and Diaro El Mundo in El Salvador have run reports suggesting that unaccompanied children crossing illegally will be provided with food, shelter, clothing and medical care while any relatives they may have in the United States are located and a decision is made about whether they can stay.

Smugglers, or coyotes, are adding fuel to the fire. According to Reuters,


Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.