The ongoing conversations and opinions about the thousands of unaccompanied children who have crossed the U.S.’s southern border focus on one question – What is the solution to this “problem”?
Many people have questions about when the problem began and what is at the root of the problem. Many people are also asking, “What can I do to help?” This very question is being asked by kind-hearted individuals from all walks of life, including executives at major corporations. My response to this multifaceted question is, in short: The only real solution to our broken immigration system is Comprehensive Immigration Reform. We must not let down our efforts or allow any issue to derail our focus on the true solution. Anything else is equivalent to a handout, an effort to suppress, an effort to heal – a Band-Aid.
Many children and families have left their home countries because of the harsh reality of gang violence or domestic violence. Others are immediate relatives of Temporary Protective Status holders, Lawful Permanent Residents, and U.S. Citizens. Our current broken immigration system makes it impossible for most to immigrate legally. There is no “line” for them to get into in their home countries to immigrate legally to the U.S. There is no “line” for them to get into in the U.S. once they are here. And there is no “line” for the 11 million-plus undocumented people already in the U.S. Their legal relief, if any, is limited to…Band-Aids.
The brave children who have made this trek are having a major impact on our immigration dialogue – in the U.S. and all over the world – without even knowing it. Social media has become a vessel for different messages in favor and against the children. Some immediate ways to help the children are to volunteer at the detention centers, both as attorneys and non-attorneys, to donate to the organizations that are spearheading immediate legal and humanitarian relief for the children, and to speak out in support of not returning the children to their persecutors in their native countries – Band-Aids.
The only true solution is to focus on reform – a comprehensive reform of our immigration system – not a Band-Aid.