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Don’t Turn Them Away

When thousands of children appear on your doorstep after a long and desperate journey from a hostile environment, do you turn them away? Great Britain didn’t. From 1938 to 1940, the British accepted thousands of Jewish children who were rescued by the Kindertransport from Nazi Germany in the middle of a war. But when thousands of children from dangerous countries in Central America flee to the United States, we can’t seem to deport them quickly enough.

How easily we forget.

There are differences between the Kindertransport and the flood of unaccompanied youngsters choking America’s border with Mexico, of course. Many of the German children were sponsored by British families ready to receive and support them, and they were expected to return home when hostilities ended; the Central Americans are arriving on their own, however they can. And while the German children were called refugees, the children seeking safety in the United States are considered illegal immigrants. That is, criminals.

This contrast is all the more remarkable because Germany was at war with Britain for part of the time the Kindertransport was operational; those kids came from the enemy. We are not at war with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the nations from which the vast majority of these children originate. In fact, Americans are indirectly responsible for the poverty, violence and lawlessness that propel frightened parents to send their children away. Americans, that is, who buy drugs from the cartels that terrorize these afflicted countries and set this tragic cycle into motion.

Unlawful immigrants should be deported, but children escaping extreme violence must be considered refugees. How can America be a country that turns desperate children away?

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