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Border situation reflects need for humane treatment

These days we’ve been hearing a lot about the high numbers of people wanting to cross our southern border, and some of it pertains to children who are being sent across the border alone.

I also happened to watch the musical “Oliver” last weekend on cable. I noted the contrast between the mostly cheerful musical and the real-life situation that’s in the news.

The musical version of “Oliver” is much different from the Dickens novel “Oliver Twist”. Fagin and the Artful Dodger are almost like good guys in the musical. Bill Sykes is the musical’s only true villian.

Oliver meets the Artful Dodger shortly after arriving in London. He’s invited to come to Fagin’s hideout where he could consider himself “one of the family”.

The boys at the hideout were well fed, reasonably well-clothed and very loyal to each other. In return for all that, they had to “pick a pocket or two”. In short, life at Fagin’s hideout was almost like living at summer camp.

Contrary to some media reports, the situation at the border seems much different for the children involved. What they have looks like the best that can be provided on an emergency basis, but nothing like a hotel or recreational facility.

Pictures that I saw on a news broadcast showed an exercise session, a small area to play soccer for older children, and a large gated play area for younger ones. It looked crowded. It’s a temporary housing site until something permanent can be worked out.

The question has to be asked about who’s sending the kids across the border. In some instances it might not be their actual parents, but other adults who plan to pose as parents in hopes of getting into the United States.

With other children it might be the real parents, people who are driven to an extreme to escape something. Part of finding a long term solution to the border situation involves working with Mexico and Guatemala to deal with what’s causing them to seek an escape.

If it’s persecution or extreme poverty, steps should be taken on the international level to provide more relief. There’s a need to advocate for human rights.

In the meantime it’s important to remember that children who cross the border are innocent victims of circumstances beyond their control.

The whole process of being away from home and apart from their parents or guardian has to be something that causes anguish for them. Kids don’t really demand all that much; just food, a roof over their heads, things to occupy their time, and the safety and security provided by trusted adults.

Their plight should be kept in mind as the rhetoric continues about what’s causing the border surge. It’s almost inevitable considering the change this winter from a presidential administration that took a hard line with undocumented border crossing, even to the point of dividing families.

Two wrongs would not make things right when it comes to the idea of just taking the kids back across the border. Their health and safety might depend on whether or not they get the shelter that’s being provided.

It’s vital that the political leaders on both sides of the border find a way to do what’s best for kids. That more than anything is something that should lead everybody to work together toward a solution,

It shouldn’t matter that these particular children are from other countries. They’re still children. We should care about them as much as we’d care about an abandoned child if one turned up in our own neighborhood.

We might not be able to care for them ourselves, but we wouldn’t ignore them either. We’d contact authorities with the hope that they’d have the needed resources.

There’s a challenge with children at the border, but also an opportunity to demonstrate that a caring approach can lead to good things. History as well as our maker will judge us on whether or not we care.

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