On the EDge: Don’t slam the door on refugee kids

OPINION – Where has the nation’s heart gone?

Why has our capacity to love, shelter, and protect disappeared?

We have witnessed racial and cultural intolerance since the very beginning of the nation, but nothing as inhumane as the current mistreatment of displaced children who are simply looking for a way to survive.

The United States has seen a tremendous influx of Central American refugee children crossing the borders as they flee the growing dangers of unchecked violence in countries where military coups have disrupted any sense of normalcy.

Some, literally, are babies, others in their teens, trying desperately to escape the madness, the violence, the poverty of a region gone haywire under dictators who have run afoul of the laws of decency but remain unopposed – and are even sanctioned – by world powers, including the United States.

These children come here scared, hungry, tired, and hoping to find something lost in their native lands: peace.

They come here alone, trekking north from Central America, through Mexico, and across the border, detached from loving families willing to sacrifice nearness for the safety and well-being of their children.

But the door remains locked tight, deaf to their knock, their pleas for help ignored. When they arrive here, they are kept in uncomfortable, harsh conditions only for as long as it takes to herd them onto airplanes and ship them home.

Central America is neck deep in its most violent time.

Poverty and the subsequent crime that follows, has shaken the region. Gangs took over in the shadow of revolutionary turns of events that displaced democracies and calm. Corruption in the governments, in the police forces, in the marketplace have left many on the street with no jobs, no home, no future. There is virtual anarchy and the children who are not starving to death are being sexually abused by these roving thugs, or cold-bloodedly murdered at ever-increasing, horrifying rates. So the parents of these children, these targets for violence and abuse, are opting to send them far away for refuge, something this nation once promised.

Still, we turn these children of the world homeward despite the threats against them. Why? I really don’t know why other than the heartless words of those in power who say “They are not our problem.”

I guess it’s more important, at least superficially, to pick our fights and stand up to Russia with sanctions and threats instead of feeding hungry children; to ensure that Israel is heavily armed in its continuing regional conflicts instead of providing medical aid to these children; to continue to foster hate and discontent on people of color and empty pockets looking for a way to simply survive.

But, these are children, right? We care and love the children of the world, right? We have shipped food and medical aid to the far corners of the Earth for decades upon decades to feed them, clothe them, heal them, in the past, right?

Then why the line in the sand now? Why are these kids less than others? What has changed?

Even George Will, long the voice of the deep right, questions this atrocity, this loss of heart.

“We ought to say to these children, ‘Welcome to America, you’re going to go to school, and get a job, and become Americans,’” he told Fox News Sunday. “We have 3,141 counties in this country. That would be 20 (children) per county. The idea that we can’t assimilate these 8-year-old criminals with their teddy bears is preposterous.”

This was once called The Promised Land, a place where the oppressed could land for a fresh start. The people who came to these shores built our cities, farmed our fields, contributed to our culture.


We shun them, we defile them, we try everything in our power to deny them access to the possibility of a good life, or, at the very least, a better life.

We have so isolated ourselves from the real problems of the world, supplanting them with the shallow importance of grandstanding on issues far removed from the gritty reality, that we lost our soul somewhere, lost our capacity for understanding, lost our compassion, and it is tragic.

We talk a good game about freedom and world leadership, but our actions tell a different, shameful story as we load up planes with children who have brown skin ad little future and condemn them to unspeakable horrors.

We have become a nation obsessed with the politics of rage. We tear each other apart because of our political persuasions, we rip each other open because of our cultural differences, we exercise our deeply rooted bigotry by ignoring the needs of innocent children.

We claim to be a nation of Christian principles, values, morals, yet are the actions of those who pack these children up and send them home in line with Christian doctrine? Is the “not our problem” justification for doing nothing in line with Christian philosophy? Simply going to church and filling a seat every Sunday does not a Christian make. It’s in the deeds, the fullness of heart, the willingness to support your fellow man.

Can you imagine the anguish a mother must suffer as she ponders sending her children to a strange, foreign place to escape almost certain death? How must that feel? How difficult must that decision be to willingly separate from your child, knowing you may never see him or her again?

Under the blanket of the Convention Against Torture, upheld by international and U.S. law, if a person is in danger of being harmed in this way by people who either are government officials or who are acting without the local governments being able or willing to protect the population, these people are refugees and cannot be lawfully sent back. Because they are children, however, they are not given the opportunity to explain why they have landed here, to make the simple statement: “I am asking for political asylum. I am in danger of persecution or abuse at the hands of the drug lords and the gangs,” which would require border agents to take them in.

But, these children have no voice.

These children have no power.

And, tragically, these children have no hope.

There is no time for discussion, gutless compromise, senseless debate. Lives – very young lives – are at stake.

It’s time to open our hearts and open the doors.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • KarenR July 29, 2014 at 7:48 am

    I agree with what you are saying….. Yet look at the funds we are spending on them and we have way to many children starving on our streets in many or our larger cities like Chicago, Oakland and more, as well as smaller cities. Then we hear stories how at one of the shelters they refused to eat the flour tortillas we served them, so that food was tossed and corn ones brought in. Really there are many that would eat a dirty flour one off the street just to have food. Just my thoughts

  • Lance July 29, 2014 at 8:10 am

    It’s always the women and poor who suffer the most. Why stop with just Central American children. The USA should provide free food, housing, heat, health care, and cell phones for all the children of the world! And we should adopt the culture they fled from as well, to prove we are not racists.

    This entire editorial is little more than the usual emotional feel-good nonsense one expects from the do-gooders, devoid of logic. If you feel bad because you are not helping a poor tattooed 16 yo MS13 member, er uh I mean child refugee, then request one as a roommate for yourself Ed.

    • Just Saying July 29, 2014 at 8:44 am

      Lance, I think the majority of Americans agree with you. And yes Ed, you need to open your home and heart to one of these “children”.

      • EL JEFE July 31, 2014 at 9:39 am

        Yes Ed….how many are YOU going to take in and help out?? Maybe you should take in a couple of those MS-13 and see how well that works out for you. Come on Ed lead by example. If you truly want to help these so-called “refugees”, then take some into your home and make sure you indoctrinate them into becoming registered Democratic voters. I for one, am tired of providing my hard earned tax dollars for these “refugees” who will end up with all the free stuff (education, housing, food stamps, medical care, Obama phones, etc.) without even so much as a “thank you”. So Ed, show the rest of us how charitable YOU are by taking in some of these “refugee children” into your home. It is obvious that you have been drinking the kool-aide for far too long. I am glad that there are many who see through this façade of “non-c0mpassion.

  • Kyle July 29, 2014 at 8:16 am

    There are starving children in America. We need to take care of our own first. We can’t even do this, but we can everyone else?

  • Brian July 29, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Taking care of the children and recognizing the situation on the border for what it is aren’t mutually exclusive. We can care for the children, who are genuinely innocent victims, while still maintaining the rule of law and securing our borders. The reality is that there are drugs, weapons, gang members, and diseases coming across the border, too. Only about 15% of those coming across the border right now are children. And if we’re so concerned about the kids, why are we handing them off to the first stranger that comes along and says he’s uncle Jose? How do we know he isn’t a pedophile, slave trader, or sex trafficker? We have laws for a reason, and we’re shutting our eyes to all of them “for the children”? We can agree these kids are innocent victims. But worse than that, they’re pawns on a chessboard being used to push a liberal agenda, and we’re going to pay a massive price along with them. Open borders can only turn the US into Mexico; they can’t turn Mexico into the US.

  • MrSmith July 29, 2014 at 8:49 am

    This isn’t the sixties Ed. Gas isn’t $.40 a gallon, Nixon isn’t in the oval office, and the Beatles’s have sunk the yellow sub-marine. The reality is, America is broke.

  • Btab July 29, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Although it was a heartfelt piece, there a few pieces missing. if it was the other way around, and 100s of American children were crossing into the Mexican border, I doubt they would show any compassion towards us. Is America full of opportunity ? Yet but those who work for it. If we hardly have the money to feed American children, and politicians keep saying that, why should we take in 100s of kids that are illegal to say the least and spend millions on them? Are they in small rooms and dirty conditions? yes! but maybe it’s because we aren’t equipped to sheltering 100s of kids at once who jus showed up. I am in now way racist, I grew up being one of few white kids in my classes, and don’t have any issues. I have issues with a100s of kids storming in and expecting to be protected when the government can hardly handle American citizens.

  • Jaek July 29, 2014 at 8:51 am

    There is a huge issue we seem to be forgetting here though: sure things are bad for these 300,000 who have come in just recently, but there are literally billions of people in the world living in below poverty levels according to the UN. Billions of people living in conditions that would make first world citizens cringe. But there literally is no way we can take all of them into our country. We can’t help everyone out there. But what we could do is actually go to their own countries and offer assistance. Instead of sending our troops to the middle east, why not fix the corruption in the South? Instead of sending our money and factories to China, why not down South?

  • Lance July 29, 2014 at 8:53 am

    EITX for the world, cross illegally and create your fake family for a $6K reward. Tax Year 2013 maximum credit:

    $6,044 with three or more qualifying children
    $5,372 with two qualifying children
    $3,250 with one qualifying child
    $487 with no qualifying children
    No need to assimilate, the IRS gives money away in all languages – Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese in case they don’t want to learn English. Don’t want to be racists and all that……
    When the system crashes I predict a round of ethnic cleansing.

    • chopsticks July 29, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Is it always about money? When do we get around to the Golden Rule? Only when it is convenient or benefits us. . . Right?

      • Lance July 29, 2014 at 11:17 am

        Funny you should bring up the Golden Rule, the corollary of which is reciprocity. There is no reason to extend tolerance where none is given. The illegals from Mexico and Asia should be treated the same way the Mexican or Chinese Govts. treat illegals that enter their country from elsewhere. Prison, execution, or at best repatriation.

      • KarenR July 30, 2014 at 10:13 pm

        How about after we take care of our veterans that have given their sainty, body parts and loyalty first. How about to the tax payers that have been paying in for all of their adult life and now cannot even afford their medications. Saw that today, lucky I was blessed enough to be able to help him out and snuck word to the pharmacy counter lady I would cover the difference for him. Seeing some one in their 90’s wanting to cry because he did not have enough for his wife’s medication. Yet give it to those who did not ever do anything for our country first NO NO. Lets take care of our home first then those in our country will have the money and tools to help others instead of just trying to feed themselves.

  • M. Collins July 29, 2014 at 9:09 am

    We’ve always had violence in S. America………….but it hasn’t got any worse in the last 6 years under Obama. So why flee to the U.S. now? Because the obamie adm. will give you amnesty. Simple. And what about charging those parents of the children being raped, molested, rented out, and disappearing altogether, with a crime?

  • M. Collins July 29, 2014 at 9:11 am

    ………….and yet our Vets go hungry and without proper medical care. Spoken like a true lib Ed.

  • chopsticks July 29, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Why is it that the conservative voter base is so scared of brown people? In the past hundred years we have made laws to turn America’s brown immigrants into criminals, to be discarded and trodden under foot. Will
    we come to realize that it is wrong to persecute the innocent? Or will we perpetuate czar Anslinger’s propaganda? The majority of the religious right’s proponents are an atrocity to any woman or man of conscious. Jesus said love everyone, not enable the wicked, but care for ALL who stand in need of succor.

    • Brian July 29, 2014 at 10:29 am

      What laws, specifically, were made to turn “brown immigrants” into criminals? And Jesus never taught to give money to the government so the government could solve the problems. He taught people to help people, one on one, in very personal ways. Don’t confuse communism and taxation with compassion and charity. They’re on opposite ends of the spectrum.

  • McMurphy July 29, 2014 at 10:49 am

    “…kept in uncomfortable harsh conditions…” There are actually being held in spartan conditions but are clean and safe. They are being fed and cared for and transferred to better facilities as quickly as possible. NGOs are providing comfort items such as toys and personal hygiene items.
    “… herd them onto airplanes and ship them home.” Really? How many have been sent home? As near as I can find out none have been repatriated. Under current law it will be years — if ever — before they can sent home.

  • bob July 29, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Maybe Ed Kociela needs some foster kids to keep him busy. It would be hypocritical at this point for him not to go and bring home a few… maybe he already has a house full? Do the right thing Ed. Practice what you preach…

  • 33 yr resident July 29, 2014 at 11:16 am

    I have to agree with Chopsticks….

  • whirledpeas July 29, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Ed, Why don’t you open your home to one?

  • Rick July 29, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Christian philosophy Ed…really ? You have no shame. You guilt the “Christians” in to caring for the poor little illegal aliens who are breaking the law and sneaking in to the country and then condemn those same “Christians” for sticking to their “Christian philosophies” when it concerns moral issues with which you disagree with them. Next time make sure you have pictures of the little children behind the headline. Oh, except when you are promoting and glamorizing abortion, then you probably won’t want the poor little kids in the background. Once again, typical Ed.

  • Allen July 29, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    I believe in compassion especially for children. I wish that is what this was about. The situation in Central and South America,is no better or worse than it has been for many years. The surge in illegal immigration has been the result of an invitation to come issued by our president and senate. They believe that they can use this manufactured crisis to advance their agenda. An agenda,that, by the way, is not designed to help people but to increase the number of voters addicted to entitlements. It is time for Americans to insist that the promise to defend the Constitution of the United States of America be no longer broken.

  • Voice of Reason July 29, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Whatever happened to Dallas Hyland’s articles? they were much better than this stuff.

    • Avatar photo Joyce Kuzmanic July 29, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      Mr. Hyland needed a “summertime” of sorts, VOR. We expect he will be back strong and ON Kilter before long. Glad to hear you miss him – each of our columnists tends to resonate differently with different people. I will pass your inquiry along.
      ST. GEORGE NEWS | STGnews.com
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

    • sing4money July 29, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      I think Mr. Hyland is on a “time-out” for his outburst over the bundy nonsense? am I right??? He stopped writing after his wife wrote a scathing article of her own calling out another journalist.

      • Avatar photo Joyce Kuzmanic July 29, 2014 at 7:09 pm

        Nope. He’s on a “summertime” of his own choosing, S4M.

  • PatriotJane July 29, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Not all these children are innocent. There are MS 13 members and other gangs. I am sorry, but we all know that there are murderers that are under 18. We should treat them humanely and then fly them back to their home countries. Rahmn Emanuel is planning on taking some in Chicago. Either innocent children are going to live in one of the most dangerous cities in our country or there will be more gang members added to that city. I am not talking about little children.

    Feel free to join the Peace Corp. Our country is already broken if you think overwhelming the system even more is a good idea then you are in lala land. Charity begins at home. Where did the parents get $7000 for a stranger to bring them to this country and what parent would send their children over a thousand miles with known coyotes? They risked their lives just on the trip alone.

  • DB July 29, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    I hate to whine (but I’m going to…). San Francisco proclaims itself as a “Sanctuary City”. Nancy Pelosi (S.F. is part of her district) sees the current situation as a “challenge”. Problem solved.

  • chickweed July 29, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Amen , thank you and shame on us.

  • St G July 29, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Oh save it! What part of illegal don’t you get? Muslims and gang bangers are just strolling right in to this country. Get a clue!

  • neighbor lady July 29, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    I think that Ed is exactly correct when he says that human decency has gone to….. I am not quoting him directly but I understand the meaning. I believe that we need to fix our problems at home but: this is a matter of children anywhere and everywhere. Children have rights and the step into the US means ” FIRST DO NO HARM”.Talk with an educator, especially for small children, and ask them the rights for children. I don’t care who you are or where you came from you are, were children. Some time someone will stand up for truth and humanity. Shame on you for shaming Ed! We all are quick to point fingers and ignore ourselves. Don’t give Ed crap if you have made no attempt to be an advocate for children. I really do believe that we need to fix our own USA problems but no child will ever walk into MY HOME and feel unloved, hungry, dirty and under appreciated. I am shaking with rage at you morons that have nothing better to do than complain! I am sickened for lack of compassion in your comments.
    Instead of bashing Ed and his feelings, opinions; learn about your neighbor. Take small steps in your own neighborhood, It is BS that he needs to have “one of those children” or even have a child at all. It is not your business what he does, it is not your business what he says, it is not your business to pass judgment,and who the hell are you to tell any one to have children. Opinions are like ***holes: every one has one and everyone thinks everyone else’s stinks!

  • Maggie July 29, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    As an ex foster mother I never requested any specific race of child to care for(just in case the racist thing raises it’s ugly head), and because the money for their care was very sparse it seems we always had out of pocket expenses. I won’t even go into how often checks were not sent or calculated correctly. Many times doctors would not treat these children because they were on Medicaid. We fostered because we had children in our community needed it. Then I read what they are paying for care and provisions for these children and I am nearly thrown into a catatonic state. Did you see what they calculated for medical and psychological care for illegals? OUR Vets and OUR children fight for every damn scrap. What, I ask is wrong with you people?
    All of you please just shut up until you actually offer to house and care for these children ,paying from your own pockets, as many caring people do. Then what you say will have some meaning and I might indeed respect you. Otherwise your words and actions are useless to these children and certainly the rest of us who actually have cared for children in need, even if they were only American children.

    I am thinking some of you will not be happy until we are a third world country and then you will … because you want to winter in Mexico and Mexico says NOOOOOO because they have to … many poor Americans, they only want the ones with money, lots of money ,not struggling writers for a small town newspaper.

    Joyce, do you actually pay this guy for this dribble?
    Ed. ellipsis.

  • Socrat July 29, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Take them in, Ed. Until you do, keep your liberal, crap spewing to yourself you hypocrite.

  • eddantes56 July 30, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    These children are not refugees; the violence they are purportedly fleeing from has existed, does exist and will continue to exist thruout the world. Based on the author’s definition, there are upwards of 500 million children around the world who quality.

    Second, immigrants today just are not assimilable; they want the econ. benefits but retain loyalty to their home country. The balkanization in the U.S. is already on display around the country.

  • EL JEFE July 31, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Hey Ed, if only you would write an article about abortion in the same vein as this one. You are a strong supporter of abortion, where is the compassion of those infants/children being killed? You Ed, are a hypocrite. No one takes your articles seriously anymore. You talk about these “refugee children” being assaulted and killed”, abused, etc., yet you are an ardent supporter of abortion?!?!?! YOU ARE A HYPOCRITE pure and simple!!

  • Incognegro (Josh Dalton) July 31, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    NEWS FLASH! All of us are born here in the US from immigrants. We even took the land from the Native people who resided here. These refugees are not going to run us off our land like our four fathers did to the folks back in the day. So go to work take care of your families and don’t worry about it. The border is a stupid idea anyway. If China invaded most of you racist bigots would love to have a couple million Mexicans on our side! I know I would! VIVA LA NEGRO!

  • bob August 1, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    gather ’em up / ship ’em home

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