A BORDER CRISIS
A BORDER UNDER SEIGE
Ronald J. Pawley
March 9, 2021
The increase in families represents only a part of the rise in migrants crossing the border in recent months. More significantly, the number of unaccompanied minors has skyrocketed, resembling trends from early 2019, which marked the beginning of what political leaders on both sides of the aisle described as a major crisis at the border, according to recent analysis.
The growing numbers have become a flashpoint in the early days of the Biden administration while it seeks to develop its own policies after four years of a more restrictive approach by former President Donald Trump.
Added to the increase are concerns over that the government isn’t testing migrants for Covid -19 and leaving it instead to local communities and charities.
“Border security is strictly a federal responsibility,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said in a statement. “The federal government alone has the responsibility to test, screen and quarantine illegal immigrants crossing our border who may have COVID.”
What is happening at the southern border is a true and actual crisis. News accounts justly use words like chaos, collapse and breakdown.
They feature images of children — toddlers, 4- and 5-year-olds — being shuffled to warehouse holding centers, sleeping crowded at night on what look like pallets, covered only in Mylar blankets. “I never thought we’d have refugee camps in America,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn, “but that’s what it’s appearing.”
All this gives normal people a feeling of besiegement and foreboding. Is a nation without borders a nation? Washington’s leaders seem to recognize what’s happening as a political problem, not a real problem.
That is, they betray no honest alarm. They just sort of stand in clusters and say things.
There seem only two groups that view the situation with appropriate alarm.
One is the children themselves, dragged through deserts to be deposited here. To them, everything is a swirl of lights, color and clamor, and shouting and clanking. A reporter touring a detainment center in Texas noted a blank, lost look among some of the younger children. Every mother knows what that suggests. Children who cry and wail anticipate comfort: That’s why they’re crying, to alert those who care for them that something is wrong. But little children who are blank, withdrawn, who don’t show or at some point know what they’re feeling — those children are in trouble.
The other group feeling a proper alarm is normal Americans, who are seeing all this on TV and who judge they are witnessing a level of lawlessness that has terrible implications for the country.
This is how I think normal people are experiencing what is happening:
No one’s in charge! No one is taking responsibility. No one who wants to help has authority, and no one with authority is helping.
America is the house that is both falling apart and under new stress. Those living within it, those most upset by what they’re seeing, know America has big problems — unemployment, low workforce participation, a rickety physical infrastructure, an unsound culture, poor public education. And of course discord of all sorts — a lot of mad squirrels running around the attic. They know America can’t pay its bills. They fear we’re living on the fumes of greatness. They want us to be strong again. Watching our border collapse doesn’t look like a harbinger of progress.
Here it must be said that those who live comfortable lives can afford to roll with the historical punches. But people who are not affluent live closer to the ground, and closer to the country’s deterioration. The rougher America becomes, the more they feel the abrasion. They’re not protected.
And they know no one wants to be in charge, wants to seize this thing and take responsibility. The mind-boggling fact is that everyone in charge more or less suggests they’re powerless to do anything. And the children keep coming.