Central American parents send their unescorted children northward in hopes of remittances and eventual anchor amnesty for themselves. Our friend Mexico facilitates the exodus through its own sovereign territory (hoping that no one stops along the transit, and happy that the border is further shredded). Central American governments seem happy too. More money will be sent back home. Fewer mouths will be left to feed. Possible dissidents will emigrate. A new generation of expatriates in the U.S. will grow fonder of and lobby for Central America the longer they don’t have to live there.
We utter “the children,” and discussion about proper culpability, cynical manipulation, and disinformation ends. In such a fantasy world, parents don’t manipulate “the children” as pawns; countries don’t try to export what they see as their surplus population; Mexico doesn’t stir the pot; and liberal activists don’t cynically calculate electoral advantage. There are children in need at the border — but there is a great deal more as well. When the president of the United States renders his nation’s immigration laws irrelevant, people notice. And when he establishes a radical expansion in entitlements, those abroad likewise notice. And when he offers a narrative that “they” are culpable and owe much to the exploited, people arrive.
Try a thought experiment of extending the logic of the current border disorder. Imagine a growing disequilibrium between Chicago and Canada. (On the other hand, why imagine it since it already exists?) Thousands of the children from the most violent areas of the inner city of Chicago — where shootings are approaching levels in Central America — decide to flee the misery for the chance of something better elsewhere. They head north. Some are preteens; some are teenagers; most are innocents; some gang members; some come with their parents; most do not. Most are poor and without resources and capital. They begin walking or getting on trains to Canada and soon mass there at the border in the thousands, as refugees from horrific conditions of the inner city of Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago. Some gang members have charged them transit fees. Imagine further that U.S. officials, with a wink and a nod, had encouraged them to leave, given the endemic violence, and the social costs of addressing it. Their parents likewise hope that they are adopted by the Canadians, given citizenship and that they soon become anchors for their own emigration out of war-torn Chicago. And imagine what might be the reaction if the children were not welcomed en masse by Canada. Would we then blast and damn Canada as nativist, racist, and uncaring for not openly bringing our “children” into their homes? Would the influx be a moral act on the part of the United States or American parents who willingly facilitated the transit, and would it be a fair charge against Canada for not immediately taking the arrivals in as likely future citizens?