The Children of the Drug Wars

They come to our border to escape murder, rape and conscription in the cartels.

Comments: 240

  1. This article makes some good points, but it fails to address the root cause of the problem, which is our irrational and immoral drug prohibition. Along with damaging our economy and destroying the lives and families of millions of harmless Americans, US drug prohibition also exports violence and destruction throughout the world, causing far more harm than any effects of drugs themselves. The solution to this problem is easy and obvious.

  2. You are absolutely. America can take in Honduras's entire population of children and there will forever be more as long as America keeps up her appetite for illegal drug....

  3. If there is an "easy and obvious" solution to this problem, I sure don't see it in the legalization of heroin or cocaine (or meth, or any other illegal drugs.) Perhaps you missed the complex set of circumstances that is outlined in this piece, which includes weapons flowing from the U.S., an insatiable appetite for drugs, and a failed state in Honduras as well as massive corruption all along the routes by which drugs are smuggled. The problem will also not be solved by returning these children (who are fleeing for their very lives) back to cauldrons of unspeakable violence.

  4. It is easy...follow the Ten Commandments.

  5. People should be at least as outraged about the guns going south and the drugs coming north as they are outraged about young children seeking sanctuary from such pain. It is profits in the US from drugs, guns and bullets that has created this Hell on earth for Central Americans and their families.

    Yes, they are refugees, and we should not send them back.

    Like many of our immigrant ancestors, they will be among the most patriotic Americans, understanding far more than those of us who were born here how much of a gift of opportunity it is to be an American

  6. Our "immigrant ancestors", at least mine, came to the U.S. and became citizens the old-fashioned way: they followed the rules and obeyed the laws. Those "illegals" now here and in hiding snuck in through our unlocked back door and completely ignored our immigrations laws. By choice, not be force. And now they expect to "jump the line" and become legal and become citizens, ahead of all those who came here legally ahead of them. They should be sent back, no matter how long it takes. We already have enough natural-born law breakers to last for a while.......

  7. Perhaps you don't remember the rules that your immigrant ancestors used to come here "legally".

    100 years ago, you could do exactly what these children are doing, flee a horrible situation, arrive on our border, and come into the United States.

    Then, in the 1920s, people who did not like the millions of Jews and Italians who came through Ellis Island and crowded into New York changed our immigration laws. They were xenophobes. It is a real tragedy that many of the great grandchildren of the Ellis Island immigrants, who have contributed so much to America, turn their back on the nation of immigrants that welcomed their ancestors, and attack these children, even as they eat bagels and pizza.

    These hopeful children are doing nothing different from what our ancestors did. All that changed is that Republicans made what our ancestors did illegal.

  8. Lynn,

    If it was the "Evil Republicans" again who changed the law back in the '20s why didn't FDR and the Democrats fix it in one of his 4 terms?

    Could it have been because of the Great Depression? Could it have been because of the dificulty in taking care of those here already?

  9. It is America's insatiable need for drugs that is killing these kids. Until we recognize that, they will continue to be victims.

  10. America's war on drugs is the root cause of this human tragedy. Were it not for America's war on drugs driving the production, manufacture, distribution, sale and use of drugs into the underground economy, this human tragedy would end.

  11. Ron,

    Allowing the legal sale of all sorts of recreational drugs here in the U.S. and allowing the current illegal cartels to become legal U.S. Drug suppliers sounds like "a great idea" (Not!) let's try it in your area first to see how it works out!

  12. So where do American kids in the inner city go when drug and gang violence increases? Canada?
    This article is trying to spin the mass invasion of illegal aliens that is being fueled by the "open borders" Democrats. Democrats feel that if young kids violate immigration laws the American public would just give them a free get out of jail card. Once freed the kids can then petition for their illegal alien parents to stay in order to take care of them.
    Fortunately Americans are not falling for that ploy. Perhaps we will mine the Southern borders similar to the 38th parallel in Korea. With a "Southern DMZ" this flood of kids would stop immediately.

  13. I do not believe a majority of these stories. These children are being coached, by liberals and immigration attorneys, who want -- as you correctly state -- to create an "anchor child" who will then allow their entire family (if not their whole village!) into the US and straight onto welfare.

    As you correctly state: where do poor Americans go? Where do kids born in Detroit go? where do kids surrounded by drugs, guns and inner city violence RIGHT HERE IN THE US go?

    Do you think these illegal immigrant kids will get to live in Park Slope and Manhattan? or posh suburbs? most likely they will move straight into our worst US inner city slums -- full of guns, drugs and violence. How is this an improvement?

  14. The root cause, the failed "War on Drugs" will not be addressed. We are witnessing the total breakdown of much of Central America. Our Law Enforcement / Prison Industry Complex (and its propaganda) is just too powerful. American citizens are now mere tax donkeys forced to pay for the Drug War, the refugees, the works.

  15. Henry,

    So all this would change for the better if only recreational drugs were sold to anyone who could afford them legally?

    Really! Then perhaps we should sell tobacco and Alcohol on the same basis as well? (not!)

  16. Thank you, Ms Nazario, for providing graphic context to this wave of children heading toward the US. Your description of the security crisis in Honduras is horrifying, and yet from my somewhat dated experience in the region, it is also completely credible.

    Still, I find some of your ethical distinctions rather questionable. For example, why distinguish between child and adult refugees? Surely the US can offer assistance to those in dire need regardless of age. And why not recognize Mexican refugees as well? While many regions of Mexico are quite safe, people unfortunate enough to live in troubled regions like Sinaloa and Guerrero have for many years faced problems similar to those you describe in Honduras.

  17. True refugees do not country shop to apply for asylum. I am not qualified to determine when someone try needs help or when someone is trying to manipulate a situation to achieve a goal. But, if a person knowingly does not respect the rule of law I become suspicious that it is the latter: manipulation. Sorry.

  18. If this were true, these children would go to peaceful Guatemala or peaceful Belize or peaceful El Salvador or peaceful Nicaragua -- all very much closer than the USA.

    This is purely economic and a clever, shifty attempt to get as many illegals into the US as possible by corrupt immigration attorneys.

  19. Forgive me, Sonia. I cannot finish your article. I shall return when I summon the courage to get through the entire piece.

  20. As you read this, one question is never answered. Since the drug cartels will go to the homes, schools and families to recruit these kids, how come they are now aiding their escape? Another question is are those who escape working for the drug cartels who have told them what to say? And how could a kid possibly walk away from the drug cartels, and they not only do not raise a finger to stop them, but are the ones who they pay to get them out? It seems these kids are inextricably entwined in the drug cartel families and they are all moving back to the US from which they were expelled. Isn't anyone skeptical that these are refugees?

  21. We need to understand that these are not "drug" cartels. These are the people who would "sell us the rope", and certainly, if they can find yet another way to extract money from the local populace, they will use it. Not all that different from ours, except that ours are governed by some minimal regulation that keeps their predatory nature marginally in check.

    And now, along with wanting to send children back to "Little Hell", ours want to eliminate more and more of the regulation that keeps them in check. Sadly, our "great nation" is moving far too fast toward oligarchy.

  22. The Liberal cry heard here to end the war on drugs won't "eliminate the regulations that keep them in check"? Please explain how that works!

  23. Thank you for printing this article.

    It is sad indeed to watch supposedly decent politicians like Obama and Hillary Clinton compete to show who will crack down faster on these children. Are we decent people at all?

  24. I think we as a people are quite decent, but we allow ourselves to be misinformed and misled by those we suppose share our decency.
    Too many of those who seek to govern are insecure, venous and only represent those who pursue personal financial gain. They have no ideas, let alone concerns, for humanity.
    If we choose to exercise this right, we are still free to vote,

  25. I live in Mexico and so clearly understand you concerns. However, if the US uses your criteria to allow all people who are live in failed states to be given US citizenship or protection, then we can reasonably expect to see the population of the US to grow from it's current 300 million to well over 3 billion.

    I'm very sad when I read about the failure of so many countries. But it's not the US's responsibility to solve their problems.

  26. I disagree. As a world leader, it is our responsibility to set an example, provide humanitarian aid, and help innocent children in danger of being murdered. We should do more than start wars and sell arms.

  27. Eric,

    As the world leader, something Liberals usually abhor, we (the U.S.) allow a million legal immigrants each year. The French allow a few thousand and most other countries do as little.

    We have set an example it's time for others to follow it.

  28. This article is, in my opinion, spot on I could not agree more with what Sonia Nazario has said. I only wish that these points were being made in the media and on the hill. I don't agree with RC's comments, I don't believe that legalization is the answer, but I couldn't care less if drugs were legalized. Drugs and producers in these countries seem to have no legal issues currently and doesn't seem to help the situation. I think that Sonia Nazario hasn't gone far enough, she has touched on the issue at hand, but we should look at what the problem is. She is treating the symptoms not the cause. The USA needs to focus on these countries and their governments, Roosevelt Corollary states that we should "...intervene...", I know that this is a sensitive subject, but if we help these people take control of their situation, then fleeing their country would not be on their minds. I would much rather spend our time and resources here, on our continent.

  29. These UACs are NOT refugees. THey do NOT meet the definition of a refugee.

    A refugee is a person who is outside their home country because they have suffered (or feared) persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because they are a member of a persecuted social category of persons or because they are fleeing a war.

    Fleeing crime does not make you a refugee. I know the UN would like to expand the definition of refugee to include those fleeing violence and crime -- but the definition has NOT changed. These UACs are NOT refugess and should be immediately deported. If necessary we must change the 2008 law so that those coming from Central America can be treated like Mexican and subjected to Expedited Removal.

    They can flee to other countries besides the US - by going all across Mexico to the US signals that they are more economic migrants than anything else. If they just want to avoid the crime they could apply for asylum in Mexico or neighboring countries like Honduras and Belize. The fact they are coming to the US means they are economic migrants and thus no eligible for any consideration other than immediate deportation.

    If we don't send them back by the plane loads so that they understand that they will not get admitted into the US - we will only have more of them. THe solution to the problem is immediate deportation.

  30. This is not how a great nation treats children.

  31. Judyw, what is your expertise and how do you know these children are not fleeing violence? Maybe they are coming to the US because we are viewed as the safest country (which we are) compared to the rest of Central and South America. So you would rather send them back to Honduras to face death? Wouldn't you at least want to know the truth? Or does that not matter?

    I find comments such as your so disheartening, so unsympathetic. Unfortunately you probably represent a majority of this country's attitude.

    We have utterly failed on immigration, the war on drugs has failed, and all we can do is talk about blocking the borders and deporting kids back to the dangers of their home countries.

    Sad indeed.

  32. Eric,

    Read the article! This is what the U.S. Would be like if we end the war on drugs. The Cartels would do the same things here! Then where would our children flee to Canada?

  33. I hope the President reads this opinion piece carefully and follows its prescriptions to a letter. As the author points out, we have a grave humanitarian crisis on our hands, and it should be dealt with as such-- not as another round of political football. These are children after all.

  34. .

    Keep legalizing, regulating, taxing and provide treatment (when necessary with taxed $$) for all drugs, and these drug wars will go away.

    When you are in a hole stop digging.

  35. If the United States legalized marijuana, cocaine and heroine, these drugs would still be illegal in Central American countries. Central American countries criminalize narcotics because the countries have high addiction rates. The violence is mostly over control of neighborhood drugs outlets, not smuggling corridors leading to the United States,

  36. Mr. Case: It is the American and European "illegal drug market" with its large flow of $$ & Euros that keep the drug cartels and the entire world-wide illegal drug apparatus, for that matter, in business. Once the US legalized them, the rest of the world may/would follow. Few bootleg today due to the fact that it does not make sound bourgeois business sense. Hence, we have experiential data that backs up legalization. Will this solve all the South and Central America's problems….no.

    “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”


  37. "This is not how a great nation treats children."

    See... that's the problem right there. The author has delusions of greatness. If the drug gangs are a threat, then perhaps, we should do something to make these places safe for children. There is no point in leaving the problem in place and simply accepting every child born in central america into the US forever.

  38. I am afraid " perhaps, we should do something" just doesn't cut it.

  39. I've been to hell holes of poverty in many countries. All the usual plight of living day to day. Never in my long travels have I seen what I saw in Guatemala and Honduras last year. Every tiny business has an armed guard. Most every car has the windows blacked out. Life goes on there but everyone feels the dark violence in the air.

  40. The cause of the drug wars is NOT the demand for drugs by Americans but rather, the criminalization of drugs by the U.S. government. Were drugs legal (and what gives the government the right to decide and control what an adult puts into his body?). This country should have learnt the basic lesson from its Prohibition experiment which is that outlawing behavior by and between consenting adults opens a pathway for criminals to organize and thrive.

  41. Drugs are also illegal in Central American countries, which have harsh penalties for drug trafficking because they have high rates of addiction. Most of the Central American violence is over control of neighborhood drug outlets. It is absurd to argue that teenage gang members kill rival gang members caught selling drugs on Tegucigalpa street corners because drugs are illegal in American cities.

    In 2012, President Pérez Molina of Guatemala proposed decriminalising drugs in Central America, but the of Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua issued an joint communiqué is which they expressed their total rejection of the proposal. The reason is that far more people die from Illicit drug overdoses than from drug-related homicides. Illicit drug overdoses was responsible for 38,329 deaths in the US in 2010.

  42. You are naïve to believe drug violence in Central America is due to U.S. drug laws. The drugs are also illegal in Central American countries, which have high rates of addiction. The drug violence in Central America counties is mostly over domestic distribution. The street gangs fight each other to control neighborhood drug outlets. They are not fighting over smuggling routes into the United States. The Rio Grande is more than a thousands miles away.

  43. Perhaps we are not a great nation.

  44. We should be keeping as many of these brave children as we can, sending them to school, helping them fulfill their destiny as the backbone of our future as a country.

  45. Most are destined to become part of the American underclass. Most of the children are teenage males who are on the verge of young adulthood. Their education ended with elementary school. They have no job skills, do not speak English, and are functionally illiterate in Spanish. They can speak and understand conversational Spanish, but cannot write or read books or documents written in Spanish. Immigration courts have to provide employ interpreters to read documents written in Spanish to illegal immigrants as well as documents written in English.

    The small children are not being brave. They don't know what's going on.

  46. Of course they are being brave.

    Violence is among of the main drivers causing the increase in UACs. Central American countries with high levels of violence have seen thousands of children flee, others with lower levels of violence are not seeing the same outflow.

    In contrast, the evidence does not support the argument that DACA or lax border enforcement has caused the increase in children fleeing to the United States.

    The argument that immigrants don't deserve to be here has been made many times in American history and it has *always* turned out to be bigoted and wrong. It still is.

  47. RC has it right, and drug legalization would pull the rug out from under these cartels just as legalization of alcohol did in the United States after our failed experiment with Prohibition. Why are we allowing this problem to fester and ruin neighboring countries to our south, decade after decade?

  48. Marijuana, cocaine and heroine are illegal in Central Americans countries. They are outlawed because these countries suffer from high rates of addition. Most of the Central American drug violence is over control of neighborhood drug outlets, not smuggling routes across the Rio Grande, which is more than a thousand miles away.

  49. The USA must end its "war on drugs" that creates criminals and murderers all over the globe especially in South America and Central America. The "war on drugs" only enriches criminals. Its evils are also causing the exodus of desperate kids escaping from south our border.

  50. Most of the drug violence in Central America, as in Mexico, is over domestic distribution. The Central American street gangs fight each other to control neighborhood drug outlets. They are not fighting to control smuggling routes across the Rio Grande, which is about 1,000 miles away from their borders. If the U.S. legalized marijuana, cocaine and heroine, the drugs would still be illegal in Central America countries, which have high rates of drug addiction.

  51. If the United States legalized marijuana, cocaine and heroine, these drugs would still be illegal in Central America. Narcotics are illegal in Central American countries because these countries have high rates of addiction. The gang violence is mostly over control of neighborhood drug outlets, not smuggling routes over the distant Rio Grande. The teenage gang members kill anyone caught selling drugs on the wrong street. However, the assertion that drug gangs will kill hundreds of thousands of deportees if they are retuned to Central American countries is total nonsense.

  52. I agree with others that although the "war on drugs" is a failure and a waste of money and lives, CA is not a major source nor transit route for drug trafficking to the US. Besides traveling through CA frequently, I have been reading the local papers, in Spanish, on- line, for years, and this is simply not a significant story line. The homicides,.gang related,.are a recurring and important story, but again, usually are just one of the story lines ( along with awful vehicular accidents- I'm betting that will be the source of my demise there!)- as in the US, the stories cover a wide spectrum of activities and it is refreshing not to have to read about the home country's foreign ears and other meddling.

  53. We topple legitimate governments, support dictators, pay billions of dollars for drugs and billions more to fight a war on drugs. We export countless guns, and turn our backs on the humanitarian catastrophe. And we think we're the good guys?

    I sent copies of this article to some friends and relatives who I think will care and pass it on. I don't know what else to do.

  54. The causes are many and varied. The truth is dfficult to discern, There are many agendas in the US, some conflicting and many not particularly honest. I do not claim to know well the culture but at least my opinion is based on observed facts.
    I am a spanish speaking traveler in CA, primarily El Salvador. I am in daily contact with a group of friends there from all walks of life, ages, occupations and educational levels I also read the local papers on- line. I spent 2 months living in a private house, alone, in a small town in the mountainous west last year. This was my 4th extended visit since 2011 and I return again next month. I travel arond usually alone, on public bus, taxis,on foot and by car. . Despite the recent reports of mass migration, nothing of significance has occurred that would account for the phenomenom.
    The primary reason for the recent surge is economic opportunity and probably the lure of glittery consumerism blasted on the media. The related issue is that the majority of migrants already have parents or family here.
    In all my wanderings around El Salvador, I've been treated well, made friends and have never witnessed even a hint of violence. The murder rate has not changed since I've been going down there and one knows where the gangs are. I feel perfectly safe and my local friends never complain of the violence. The government there seems fairly responsive to the people. Economics, and family re- unification appear to be the motivatoion.

  55. Latin American was dubbed the "Banana Republic" long ago because of the U.S.-based United Fruit Company, which was established in 1899 to exploit third world labor. It was repeatedly accused of bribing foreign leaders for preferential treatment and helping to prop up dictators who dealt brutally with any attempts of workers to form groups to seek better working conditions. There were many massacres.

    In conjunction with our government, especially the CIA, popular leaders were toppled and replaced by despots. As long as the majority of the population was kept in abject poverty with no rights and little access to education, a cheap labor force willing to work under the most torturous conditions was always ensured. Our corporations got rich and richer as the indigenous people of these nations suffered.

    Now they come to our borders in desperation, largely created by our own corporate/government conduct in their countries, and we angrily condemn them and turn them away.

    It's shameful... and I wonder why we have heard little of this in the media and political discourse currently underway.

  56. Why?
    Because truth is an impediment to greed.

  57. I agree - if drug demand disappeared, the gangs would simply turn to kidnapping for ransom, sex trafficking, or some other heinous activity. The root cause of most problems is poverty - aided and abetted by the ongoing effects of colonialism, exploitation, and "fighting Communism". We can add to that current policies such as US farm price supports that undermine South American corn.

  58. "TO permanently stem this flow of children, we must address the complex root causes of violence in Honduras, as well as the demand for illegal drugs in the United States that is fueling that violence."

    Sigh. Always the easy answers that really aren't. How do we deal with the "demand for illegal drugs in the United States"? Clue: it isn't by doing the same thing fruitlessly we have been doing since Nixon's day, by creating a black market and enforcing prohibition with militarized transnational police or fingerpointing at those who use these drugs.

    While the gang problems in Honduras and central America, the refugee children and the author's other anecdotes are heartrending, we need to realize this is simply predictable blowback from the US's own failed drug laws and law enforcement policies.

    But to even consider the opposite, legalization with treatment for addicts, for even the marijuana that drives at least half of these cartels' profits...nooooooo, we couldn't have THAT.

    I'm tired of those blaming the "demand" until they come up with reasonable suggestions other than a feckless attempt at shaming "drug users" to solve these problems. (p.s. I have no problem with treating these kids as refugees seeking political asylum in the short run, so long as we understand the root cause of this problem is Congress, the United States government, "conservatives" and the U.S. electorate).

  59. Here's a conundrum we face as a nation: How can we help indigent child refugees from other nations when we are unwilling to provide assistance for the children raised in poverty in our own country? Yet as this article indicates, our country's efforts to cut off supply routes in some Central and South American countries has re-routed the drug traffic to Honduras, whose weak government and lax and corrupt law enforcement make it an ideal breeding ground for narco-terrorism. How can we turn children away when their pain and suffering is the result of our policies?

    The best way out of this paradox would be to change our policies nationally and internationally. We should act like the humanitarian nation we claim to be and provide support and assistance to all children born into poverty and strife.

  60. Guys, why are the politically-correct posts becoming editor's picks while the rational counterarguments, such as those from Enough Humans and SM above, are being ignored? They do an excellent job of debunking the specious half truths in the essay.

  61. Especially the children born into poverty and strife who are born in our own country. When we are through serving our own then we can see what can be done for others. We can start in Chicago.

  62. We can't be responsible for everything ! Put them up at your house , in your school district and pay the requisite taxes to subsidize their presence here !

  63. PLEASE -- someone make the connection between the demand for drugs here in the United States and the destruction of societies to our south, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and on and on. The drug cartels did not spring from local demand or circumstances, but to satisfy our craving for drugs. Every user in the United States, of heroin, of cocaine, etc. is part of the root cause of so many shattered lives. Our collective obligation to these people is not based on some superior morality or virtue, American exceptionalism, or economic expediency; our obligation to help is based on the fact that we, in our ever burgeoning drug culture, have created the demand that the drug cartels have risen to satisfy through terrifying means. Let us admit that our war on drugs has been an absolute failure, both for us and for Latin America. It is time to deal with the use of drugs in the United States in a manner that will decriminalize drug use and possession, end the demand for illegal drugs that the cartels are only too capable of supplying, and begin to heal the lives, both here and abroad, that are the collateral damage of the drug culture.

  64. I do not see that we are morally responsible for the behavior of the monsters who make the illegal drugs that are used to addict our children. That is to set every rational concept of morality on its head.

  65. Thank you for an observation that too many Americans neglect.

  66. Most of the Central American drug violence is over domestic distribution. The street gangs fifth each other to control neighborhood drug outlets. It has nothing to do with smuggling routes over the far distant Rio Grande.

  67. The United States offers asylum to applicants who can demonstrate credible evidence that they fear being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinions. The Central American refugees do not fit the criteria. Besides, the assertion that the 52,000 unaccompanied Central American children who have illegally crossed the Rio Grande will be murdered by drug cartels if they are returned to their home countries is nonsense.

    As the author points out, countries that border Syria have set up refugee camps for refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war, but the United States does not border Central America, and Central America, despite drug cartel killings, is not a war zone despite. Despite its high homicide rate, the mortality rate in Honduras is 5.13 per 1,000 residents compared to the U.S. mortality rate of 8.15 per 1,000 residents.

    Countries like Turkey and Jordan set up refugees camps for Syrian civil war refugees, but the refugees will be detained in the camps until the resolution of the conflict. The refugees are not offered permanent asylum or citizenship, and they are not released into the general populace. If refugee camps are to be set up, they should be set up in countries that border Central America with assistance from the United Nations.

  68. The law clearly states that the cases of children fleeing Central America will adjudicated to determine whether or not they are victims of trafficking. If they are they will be granted asylum. That said, It's true that not every one of the children in question will be murdered by drug cartels but neither will every one of the children fleeing the civil war in Syria.

    If, as you claim, the mortality rate in Honduras is 37% less than that in the United States in spite of the murder rate, then the United States has some serious problems. That, however, doesn't make the murder rate in Honduras any less horrendous.

    Since when does a country have to share a border with another to offer shelter to refugees?

    These children are not being granted any sort of permanent asylum until their cases are adjudicated as is clearly stated by the law. Further, the idea that a group of unaccompanied children should be placed in detention camps for an indeterminate amount of time awaiting their evaluation when they could instead be placed with relatives, friends or foster parents should be abhorrent to any caring person.

  69. These children are fleeing chronic poverty and social dysfunction in Central America, but this does not make them refugees under international or U.S. law (and if did, why wouldn't the 'refugee centers' Ms. Nazario advocates be set up in southern Mexico, not the United States?). They are seeking reunification with parents and other family members illegally in the United States who, irresponsibly, have themselves funded these inherently dangerous journeys northwards. The comparison of their situation to that of persons fleeing war-torn Bosnia in the past or Syria today is morally unserious and does a tremendous disservice to those genuine refugees who desperately need and deserve protection.

  70. More dishonest reporting in the name of political correctness. NPR reported on this issue talking to many in the nations in question. The overwhelming reason for the surge of Central American youth is the perception that they will get some form of amnesty if they make it in time. The only way to stop the flood of illegal aliens into the U.S. is to deport them immediately, regardless of their age, gender, or race. Then people will see that they are wasting there time and money trying to reside in the U.S. illegally. The U.S. is over-populated and more humans will just add more destruction of habitat and wildlife, more consumption of resources, more population of the land, waters, and atmosphere.

  71. This is not "political correctness" -- it's commonly known as having empathy and morals. Unless you're Native American, you're an illegal immigrant too!

  72. We've got a real problem here: you and I are OK, but what are we going to do with everyone else? Cha!

  73. This is nonsense. My ancestors may have been "illegal immigrants" (although I don't think the Native American tribes actually had immigration laws - maybe they did) but that doesn't make me an illegal immigrant. Australia was settled by convicts - does that mean current day Australians are all criminals? That our ancestors did something wrong doesn't mean either that that wrong thing is somehow right or that we are guilty of the same crime.

  74. This article does mention that making drugs illegal is a root cause, but moves on because she is worried about what she rightly calls the refugee problem. But no discussion of the violence should go without acknowledging US responsibility for the violence - making drugs illegal raises the money involved by orders of magnitude, and as a society, we ship those billions of dollars to the cartels, which predictably fight over it and coerce people to transport it. In Mexico the state is stronger and they 'get away' with 'only' having thousands killed, not the degree of violence now in Central America. Strong security has never stopped the flow of drugs into this or any other country, only means that we keep the violence we are causing beyond the border. Making them illegal doesn't prevent or cure addiction. It makes stories like this one about the 11 year old all too common.

  75. I'm no great fan of prohibition and I oppose laws against soft drugs like marijuana, but the evidence suggests that while it can never be entirely effective and has social costs prohibition does reduce the incidence of drug abuse. And I don't see that any nation is obligated to harm the welfare of its citizens on behalf of the countries that produce the drugs that addict them. That's the logic the British used in the opium wars.

  76. I wonder if we started offering statehood to these smaller countries and their provinces, if we could then leverage law enforcement and military assets to protect them, build them up. Exporting democracy while saving lives.

    Instilling democracy in another culture's governance would be considered a win.

  77. Well, if you look at Puerto Rico, that approach is a mixed bag -- a level of prosperity and rights that is higher than most of the rest of Latin America, but lower than it is here.

    My sense is that we shouldn't further dilute our culture or turn into a bilingual society, a situation which, if you look at other countries, typically leads to internecine conflict.

    We can absorb a certain percentage of people from the third world but at some point, we risk importing the authoritarian values, corruption, ignorance, and overpopulation that bedevil Latin American countries. We should remember the lesson of Iraq: our cultural values are not easily imposed. They are best disseminated passively, because democratic values, honesty, a commitment to freedom of expression, a belief in the elevating power of education, and a strong work ethic aren't things that can be imposed.

  78. US immigration policy should deny entry to people from countries with runaway population growth.

  79. We can't even help our own poor children. What makes you think we can help those in a far away country?

  80. The figures you present show that many of the children coming here aren't even fleeing home-grown violence. And those who are could just as well move to a peaceful neighboring country than come here. The only reason to endure the dangerous trip here is for economic benefits or because they believe that they will be allowed to stay.

    For that reason, we must now allow illegal immigration to be the first step in asylum, or offer economic incentives that cause illegal aliens to lie about why they came.

    Let us establish refugee camps in neighboring countries and provide a legal means for any child or adult fleeing violence to stay there. Then we will see whether people are really fleeing violence, or just using it as an excuse.

  81. Spoken like a true NIMBY.

  82. Name a peaceful neighboring country.

  83. "Let us establish refugee camps in neighboring countries"? Do the neighboring countries get a say in this or do they simply need to obey the United States? What right do we have to establish refugee camps outside our borders?
    Remember, the neighboring countries do have gang violence too or really lack the resources to help these children.

  84. What about the children of the citizens who live here?

    Why don't you care about them?

  85. Why? because those children cannot be guaranteed to grow up and vote an automatic all-blue liberal Democratic ticket.

  86. These stories sound fantastic. I am not sure what to believe anymore. I'm not sure if they are real or fabricated. Is it possible that the parents are telling them what to say and how to answer any questions asked by the U.S. Customs. If they are true they are horrific, if they are not, it is just another way to get out. My experience with the young Mexican illegal kids is that they lie a lot and make nothing of it. I dealt with them personally. That is why I am skeptical.

    Who is going to run the country 10 –20 years from now ,if all the kids are leaving ?
    As crazy as it may seem maybe we should legalize all the drugs and keep a tight control on them .
    It is very clear that the billions of dollars spent on the drug wars have been totally wasted, and may even be responsible for the catastrophic problems we have today. The governments of these countries are the the drug cartels themselves double dipping in the sense that they are selling the drugs and getting paid by the US government at the same time. shame on us.

  87. The writer of this piece is a former Los Angeles Times reporter who has spent DECADES documenting the situation in Central America, with many outstanding stories to her credit. She knows what she is talking about.

  88. Almost over half of the world is about in the same boat with violence, unjust, repressive, self interest, self righteous, corrupt to the hilt Governments . Where the few hold all the power and money. They run government of the few by the few and for the few & careless about the Nation & the people. To that end we are not far behind. This misled nation thanks to the crooked corrupt, self interest, self righteous politicians , with their ideological agendas have it ideologically divided , polarized and on a fast track of self destruction from within.
    These illegal immigrants seeking better life, greener grass wanting to leave there miserable existent behind can just about move to other countries in their sphere. Where conditions are better then in there own country.. They ought to be told and made to understand that we too have limited resources and this country & not a haven for the rest. This boys to reunite with his mother may be a right thing for them both, but they have no right to impose their needs on the citizens of this country. Which is far from a so called great nation. There is no such thing as Christian humanitarianism here . We too are bogged down with Islam bashing, Judaeo- Christian psychopathy , indifference to the poor masses and ideological divide. Which they have seen, when certain kind protested and blocked the buses to places in CA where these people had to be processed according to the US laws. It would far better seek some better haven.

  89. This is disgraceful. Diane Feinstein is right - it's the moral equivalent of Jews seeking to come to our shores to get away from Nazi Germany. Our response so far has been equally abhorrent.

  90. People sure are in denial about the effects of overpopulation on human behavior.

  91. Welcome to the "new" America...all for me, myself, I. Throw the beggars out.

  92. When someone breaks the law what should we do? We have to lock them up. Giving them comfort would encourage more law breaking. We don't want that.

    Really Obama does. He wants to seed each state with enough anchors for future migration that will, of course, vote Democrat.

  93. By definition, refugees are people who are forced to leave their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. Ms Nazario's article clearly explains the risks and puts everyone on notice; staying in a crime invested community is dangerous, but attempts to leave and travel great distances to illegally cross the US border is also very dangerous.

    There are multiple news reports, but the vast majority of people are not being forced to leave out of fear. ~47,000 kids, accompanied and unaccompanied, have crossed the border in the last nine months. In that same period, another 115,000 adults from countries "other than Mexico" have entered the USA; ~100% increase from the previous year. 34,500 or ~30% are unaccompanied children who are sent by their families in Central America to join relatives in the USA and eventually reunite with parents who plan to come later. I'm not sure if that's legally plan to come later or illegally plan to come later.

    Reports indicate that the vast majority are not being forced out do to fear. They are accompanied by an adult or they are sent by their parent via a paid smuggler. They're not refugees. They are illegal immigrants. If there are a few isolated cases like Cristian Reyes from the story, then they can be handled separately by walking into our local embassy. The concern is that once this approaches works; then everyone will learn to claim that they fear for their life in order to get special refugee treatment from the US.

  94. Both my grandfathers were sent to the US to avoid being drafted into the Russian army for the Russo-Japanese war in 1904-05. Jewish young men were being sent to the "front" way out of proportion to other ethnics or Russians. Many Jews who did serve survived, but it was assumed that the odds were against them.

    One of my grandfathers came on a passport that was not his.

    The only real difference between then and now is that there was no "illegal" immigration and the US economy was booming But that all that changed in 1924. Morally I don't see any difference between my grandfathers' plight and the plight of these children.

  95. Yes, there are a number of immigrants who seek to escape bad home country conditions but most are economic refugees and children or siblings of illegal immigrants already in the US. This is an unfortunate and dangerous situation both for the immigrants and the nation itself. Those demanding compassion for a never ending chain of immigrants are very short sighted. They fail to appreciate that showing 'compassion' by granting de-facto permanent status is a bad thing for the immigrants who will be permanently attracted to cross the border and put themselves in extreme danger in the process. Also many of these border crossers are not dirt poor. Most pay Coyotes several thousand dollars to get across. The US should provide sanctuary for a limited number of true political refugees but the nation can ill afford to yearly import several million legal and illegal immigrants while the average American wage earner is facing a declining standard of living while our booming population (mostly fueled by immigration) is estimated to reach 500 million by 2050. Rather then offering a better life to future generations we are in the process of becoming a new India where the majority are mired in poverty while a small wealthy elite reap the benefits.

  96. This is a complex problem, which includes a demographic variable.Two of the children-exporting countries, Guatemala and Honduras, happen to have, along with Haiti, the highest total fertility rates in Latin America.

    A few decades ago, fast population growth characterized most of the Region's nations. Not anymore. In Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay, to name a few examples, total fertility rate is well below replacement level, which has impacted external and internal patterns of migration. This trend is also observable in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.

    The demographic situation in Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti is explosive (and atypical). It certainly deserves more attention, because of its negative impact on natural resources, as well on education, public health, and other crucial services.

  97. You're right - this is due in large part to the overwhelming power of the Catholic church in Central America as opposed to Mexico, which has more of a separation of church and state, and has legalized birth control and even abortions, I believe. The church in these specific countries does not allow contraception nor abortions which makes the problem that much worse.

  98. This is absolutely a humanitarian crisis, but I think your suggestion of establishing tent cities (i.e., emergency refugee camps) run by the UN/IRC is absurd and rather inhumane. And I seriously doubt these asylum cases would be adjudicated as seamlessly and swiftly as you seem to suggest. I would prefer that the refugee children be immediately released/reunited with their family members in the U.S. (assuming they're residing here) or placed with a foster family that has some cultural sensitivity and awareness of the severe trauma they're experienced. Let's not re-victimize these vulnerable children through another mind-boggling bureaucratic process (which will end up being nothing more than a monumental mess).

  99. They and their parents are breaking our laws. They should all be deported. It is mind-boggling that the American taxpayer is told to accept responsibility for Honduran problems.

  100. Is it also mind-boggling for you that we are to treat one another as we would be treated?

  101. There are two things that have caused this horrendous upheaval in Honduras. The Contra War and the insatiable appetite of the United States for drugs. Somehow, the USA should make the connection for what they have done to Central America. If the market for drugs going to the US would cease, then these drug warlords would cease to exist. In the meantime, thousands of people are terrorized by these gangs whose only purpose is to pass drugs up North, and this is why the people are running north. Honduras was not like that when I lived there about 40 years ago. It was a backward but peaceful country. All changed with the Contra War and the drug cartels established to satisfy US citizens that continue to buy these drugs.
    Make the connection and see who of what is the cause of this mayhem.

  102. I recently researched statistics on violence in the Western hemisphere. What I found was that Nicaragua was the second safest country(Canada was the first) in the Western Hemisphere. So if all these Hondurans are primarily fleeing violence, why aren't they flooding across the border into neighboring Nicaragua?

  103. They are. As Ms. Nazario writes, "They aren’t just going to the United States: Less conflicted countries in Central America had a 712 percent increase in asylum claims between 2008 and 2013." That includes Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize.

  104. They are! Less violent countries in Central America, including Nicaragua, have had an increase of 712% in asylum claims between 2008 and 2013. Did you not read the article?

  105. If 712 percent increase is correct, it tells us nothing about the absolute numbers involved. It is an increase on a very small base. Few are going to Nicaragua because work, relatives, and social services are less available; also the illegal immigrants now believe they will be able to remain in the USA .

  106. Drugs were a part of the Iran-Contra operation, the Taliban had eradicated drugs in Afghanistan before the US invasion, and now the drug harvest is huge there. Honduras was 'fortunate' to endure a right wing takeover sponsored by the US oligarchs and now is a narco-state. HSBC, the huge international bank, was caught laundering narco-cartel money. It is easy to follow the money of the elite in these countries, just look for drugs and oppressed people and investigate what American companies profit from.

  107. While it seems so reasonable to recommend better immigration judges and so forth, that strikes me as a sop to those blowhards who are howling for the immediate deportation of these children, and I think that any concession to them is cowardly. These are children, for goodness sake, in dire harm's way at home and in no way a threat to us. Welcome them with open arms: "For I was hungry, and you gave me food: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in."

    Meanwhile, let's stop trying to shore up the outdated European colonial structures in the Middle East, etc., and turn our attention to our true neighbors, the countries that occupy the same hemisphere and which in their histories also threw off the yoke of European imperialism. Let Britain and France deal with the mess they made when they created Iraq and Syria.

  108. They have parents. They and their parents should be immediately deported. It is morally wrong to demand the right to overrule our immigration laws based on bringing a child here.

  109. Why are cameras not allowed in any of these facilities? Where are the bilingual reporters doing the stories on these "children"? Where are the stories on how this is happening and why now? What are we not being told?

  110. They have parents who abandoned these children and came here and made more children. Now they want to unite the whole tribe. Yes, lets do that. Give them my job and I'll scrounge in the dumpsters.

  111. Our failure to legally regulate widespread recreational drug use created the vacuum which empowered the cartels and this resulting inhumanity.

  112. Fine to advocate the legalization of cocaine etc. but until legal you are complicit with the murderous cartels if you buy their product.

  113. Many commentator blame the violence U.S. drug laws. However, drugs are also illegal in Central America, and most of the Central American drug violence is over control of domestic distribution. The street gangs drug each other for control of neighborhood drug outlets. The competition is for street corner-level distribution, not smuggling routes over the far away Rio Grande.
    CNN traces the Central American gang violence to deported Los Angeles gang members: “It started 30 years ago when hundreds of thousands of Central Americans began immigrating to the United States, many of them illegally. Some ended up in Los Angeles, then the street gang capital of the United States, if not the world. Some of the immigrants' children grew up and became gang members. They formed two large gangs, Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, and 18th Street. The neighborhoods where these gangs were based became active areas for the Los Angeles Police Department's homicide division in the 1990s. So the United States deported many of these gang members back to Central America. As a result, Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street, originally from Los Angeles, became Central American gangs. The region began to suffer an explosion of robberies, extortion cases and murders perpetrated by gang members.” Border Patrol agents say many of the Central American border crossers have MS-12 tattoos.

  114. All true. I was reading summarirs of asylum cases from El Salvador. They follow a script. An "expert" submits an affidavit descibing the origins, operations etc of MS- 13 or Barrio/ Calle 18. The claimant alleges he was threatened etc. The most amazing claim was from a pandillero ( gang member) who claimed that he was being hunted by Sombra Negra (supposedly an extrajudicial police "death squad"- which btw the ordinary people there don't have a problem with) precisely because he was MS-13. Asylum granted.

  115. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Organized crime groups in Central America have exploited the slow U.S. legal process and the compassion shown to children in apparent crisis, according to David Leopold, an immigration attorney in Cleveland. He said smugglers, who may charge a family up to $12,000 to deliver a child to the border, often tell them exactly what to say to American officials. "The cartels have figured out where the hole is," he said." The former LA gang members are coaching their younger gang members on how to navigate the U.S. immigration system.

  116. "Gangs arrived in force in Honduras in the 1990s, as 18th Street and Mara Salvatrucha members were deported in large numbers from Los Angeles to Central America..." is what becomes of those refugee children that this article implores us to accept. They grow up, they join gangs and they create chaos. What the US needs to do is stop sending one penny of aid to countries who are not protecting their citizens and we need to rethink the war on drugs. It hasn't worked. We do not need to become Central America, but we do need to encourage those countries to act more responsibly. Countries that have stable democracies risk those same democracies if they are overrun. I feel for the millions of refugees around the world, but where do we stop? All the people of Haiti, Somalia, Honduras, Belize, Sudan, Bangladesh, Syria, Cuba, Iraq, Palestine...the world is a harsh place.

  117. Whaaattt????!!! We cannot stand by, or worse, send these children back to what is probably at the least a death sentence. I'd be willing to take some of these poor ones into my home and shelter them.
    Our country was founded on taking in the poor, huddled masses yearning to be free, or at least that what I think greets those coming into the harbor in New York.
    These children are the absolute definition and epitome of this. The character of a nation can be determined by how the most defenseless are treated. Let us not fail the test

  118. Patricia, the true defenseless on this planet are the non-human life forms which humans are in the process of annihilating.

  119. You mean like how we treat our own poor, our own children.

    When every American has a job, every American child goes to bed without hunger, then, I'll give credence to your words.

  120. I would be willing to take them into my home as well. This is America. We are bigger than those who are demonstrating. We cannot turn our backs on those at risk, especially when the cartels are involved. I say...legalize the drugs. That's the only thing that will stop this senseless horror.

  121. It's astonishing how many pro illegal immigration articles run in the NYT.

    A question: is a child from East LA a refugee? South Chicago? Downturn Detroit?

    Because all of those children live a life of poverty. All see gun violence. All are harassed by gangs

    Where are the thrice daily articles about American children? American poor? American unemployed?

    Sorry. Only room to talk about the Central Americans

    We don't even have the resources for our own children. The US cannot accept every person on earth who wants to come here. We can't house and feed 7 billion people.

    If these children are in crisis then let them apply for citizenship or refugee status from their own country. They can come here the same way refugees from Cambodia and Somalia and other war torn countries come here.


    Also I find it insulting that you compare the situation in Honduras to that of Syria and Iraq. The situation in Central America is better by 100x

    These purple are coming here for jobs and education and public services.

    The constant tear jerking propaganda is turning many liberal Americans against the amnesty wave that has infected Democratic leadership and the NYT. Especially as the coverage is so one sided completely ignoring the stress it puts on our American working class and poor

    I will be for amnesty if the NYT writes articles proposing bringing ALL these children to the upper East Side and schooling them at Stuyvesant

  122. Nah. These kids will largely accumulate in the border states -- Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, etc.

    Then the lefty media will excoriate these same states as "red states, where everyone is stupid" and how they won't vote "their best interest" which is always what the left wing says it is.

    You won't see any of these kids going to Park Slope or Manhattan, that's for sure.

  123. .
    If all drugs were legal and you needed a prescription for the bad ones, the doctors would sort the addicts, the police would focus on real criminals and violence and corruption would go way down.

    Murder rate in Colorado is down 40%, and they only legalized marijuana.

  124. "we must address the complex root causes of violence in Honduras". And then what? After we have addressed those causes and held investigations. Who will change the situation? You? Me? The UN? How will you, or others, define "refugee".? How would YOU create these "emergency centers? Where? How long will that take? What government would post "immigration judges"? At what cost? Where would they be found? How will they be made "to better understand the conditions"? How could they be made "to be more open"? After the "judges" act, what will become of the children? And there are many more questions on subjects you have brought up. Your opinions are true and well-meant. Your thoughts on what needs done are accurate. But I believe none are achievable. This "grand and great nation" has many thousands of its own children in similar dire circumstances also, so I guess we will have to endure "disgrace" and "undermining our credibility".

  125. Well, things get very quickly organized with lots of money for nonsense wars abroad, right? After all those wars we get thousands of young americans killed or severely handicapped, and our nation continues to lack young workers to sustain the system in the next 15 years (social security!). We should welcome immigration of young people willing to work and support the system, please look at the numbers...If not for humanitarian reasons, at least for economic reasons. Peace...

  126. The definition of a refugee has been set by the UN since the 1940s and the US has used this definition since 1980; we have had refugee policies since World War II and have implemented them in cases like these since the 1980s; there are plenty of detention centers and other temporary holding centers for refugees so building a tent city for these children is not unusual except for the material being used; the comment above from Boston is correct, though--this article is still actually dichotomous and the United States' own involvement in Central America is much deeper, continuous, and goes beyond drug use. Our implication in this situation is significant. Saskia Sassen has stated that immigration never happens in a vacuum--particularly a flow like this. Deportation can often mean certain death...

  127. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." I was born in the 1950's and grew up thinking that's what America's purpose was. Really. And then, after we welcomed them, everybody gets a fair shake, right?

    These days when I read the news I mostly think of a cynical song by Lou Reed, in which he called Lady Liberty the "Statue of Bigotry".

    Right wingers and tea party types calling for the National Guard and militias to be dispatched to the border to intercept and turn back... children. Children who will almost certainly be killed when they arrive back in their country of origin. The drug gangs will kill them for trying to flee.

    This is not America.

  128. And I blame the confluence of big oil and the CIA. They came to power in the person of George H.W. Bush who ran the country as Vice-President for eight years behind an actor, the as President for four years and then through his crony Cheney as Vice-President with his alcoholic son in the part of the actor.
    All five of the radically conservative SCOTUS justices were appointed while a Bush was in power.

  129. Lou Reed didn't know what he was talking about either. In 1886, the year the Statue of Liberty was dedicated, the United States accepted 23,000 immigrants. Today, United States accepts about one million legal permanent immigrants every year, more than all the other nations of the world combined. The assertion that Central American drug cartels will assassinate the estimated 52,000 unaccompanied children if they are returned to their home countries is blatant nonsense.

  130. That's a poem, by lefty poet Emma Lazarus. It wasn't part of the Statue of Liberty as built, and was added many years later.

    Nobody has ever interpreted to mean "the US has no borders, anyone can come and stay and we won't ever deport anyone, and we should have massive illegal immigration".

  131. The worst hit state is Texas with thousands coming forward, and expecting a welcome. It’s really outrageous because hundreds of our own people live in poverty and their children go to bed hungry. While this financial destruction is happening, while US Border Patrol officers are fully involved in processing and looking after Mothers with children and unaccompanied minors, criminal aliens are slipping by the border, that includes unknowns from Kuwait, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other middle eastern countries. The border is relatively open with gang members; drug and people traffickers already deported slipping back through.

    Obama told audiences, as late as yesterday, that he was going to deport most of these people. Yet, as best can be told, over half have gone into the wind, sent to illegal aliens, some forced into the human sex trafficking industry. In fact, NONE of these illegal aliens are going to be deported—NONE. Obama is issuing orders to keep them here because their home countries are dangerous. Maybe they should all be sent to Chicago, without weapons and see if that or their homeland is more dangerous. In fact, Obama is setting the illegal aliens not to be allowed back in their home countries—chaos.

  132. "It’s really outrageous because hundreds of our own people live in poverty and their children go to bed hungry."
    Two things:
    Hundreds of our own people? Really? That many?
    What are you doing to help "our own" people who live in poverty and go to bed hungry?

  133. is there no question as to why these children are making their way here. Mexico, Costa Rica, et al. are far closer. Small children are not making this trip alone nor from exigency. Refugees cross the nearest borders…it is an emergency response. Making it the full length of Mexico is planful. Let us be just a bit realistic and temper the knee jerk reactions.

  134. NYT 2014-07-11 Nazario comment

    Ms. Nazario provides some important information. But the dichotomous division she draws between children fleeing violence and children fleeing poverty, which means hunger and the inability to go to school, is false.

    She writes, " many migrant children come for economic reasons, and not because they fear for their lives. In those cases, they should quickly be deported if they have at least one parent in their country of origin." Economic reasons in rural Guatemala mean that 80% of Maya children are stunted and developmentally delayed because they do not get enough to eat.

    Hunger and lack of schooling or medical care are the soil in which gang and cartel recruiters thrive.

    Hunger, deprivation, and extreme violence by police, the military, and drug cartels, in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are results of U.S. policies for the last six decades. Honduras is the original "banana republic," where the last military coup supported by the United States occurred in 2009. It was to overthrow a president who wanted to increase the minimum wage.

    New York Times writer Stephen Kinzer documented the U.S. policies that led to the current child refugee crisis in his books "Bitter Fruit" and "The Brothers." Before Ms. Nazario advocates for deportation of children fleeing poverty in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, she might like to see what her colleague Mr. Kinzer finds about what we did to their home countries.

  135. I recently made comments stating these children should be returned to their home countries, that we are not responsible for their plight. I was wrong. Several people pointed out to me information found in this article and I spent time researching the problem. I also realize how easy it is to get caught up in simplistic "answers" to complex problems. Until we deal with the drug problem in this country, taking the profit out of drugs, nothing will change. In the meantime, as GWB was told by Colin Powell (on another subject) "If you break it, you own it". Since our drug use is the reason for this migration it is our responsibility to deal with it, and not (as I wrongly stated) by returning children to a dysfunctional society.

  136. Good point, Steve. A bulge of idle young men, combined with lax security and an overabundance of drugs, tends to make any society dysfunctional. Overpopulation continues to be a serious problem in certain countries of Central America.

  137. It takes a brave person to admit he or she is wrong. I, like you, have taken time to research the situation. Unfortunately, most of the American public, mainly because of the way they receive their news, will not do this. I like the phrase of one of commenters today taken from GWB: "if you break it, you own it." That is so simple and true.

  138. Drug police in Central America is about the same as drug policy in the UNited States. They imposed 20 year sentrences for drug trafficking. Most of the drug violence in Central American consists of fighting between teenage street gangs to contol domestic drug distribution. They kill each other to control neighorhood drug outlets. It is mostly street-corner level drug dealing. Honduran teenagers are not killing each other to for control over drug smuggling routes over the Rio Grande, which is more than one thousand miles away.

  139. "This is not how a great nation treats children."
    This is the best comment I've seen.
    Most others are just hateful nasty rants. These are KIDS.

  140. Absolutely agree---100%! This country used to be selfless. Now, it is selfish. SHAME!

  141. They are children being manipulated by their illegal criminal parents, to sneak into the US and steal jobs and welfare from US citizens. These children are being coached and taught to lie.

  142. Chicago, Detroit, Liberty City, and other urban areas in the U.S. are full of kids facing many of the same situations because of gangs, the drug trade, broken homes and plain old poverty and lack of jobs. They have no other country to run to for sanctuary. Up to 80% of school-age children in many of our schools in both rural and urban areas are receiving 2 free meals a day, and often backpacks filled with food to make sure they are able to eat over the weekends. Adding more helpless children to this situation can only exacerbate what already exists to make life a misery for inner-city youngsters. I also remember when we took in thousands of Salvadoran refugees. Their kids formed MS-13, a vicious gang that murdered and terrorized the U.S. cities that had given them sanctuary. And you wonder why we're fearful of taking in these sad young migrants?

  143. Whatever happened to “Give me your tired and your poor?” In the unending Middle East post 9/11 wars Bush-Cheney guided US into, how many young people's lives were lost? 

    Is that number more than four thousand soldiers who might have fathered and mothered a couple three offspring had they lived?

    We need the kids! 
    "This is the Promised Land
    That was then
    This is now
    Each land show it’s promise
    Pow wow to the pea pull
    Up with the folks.”

    Every one of these kids allowed to grow up in our “Promised Land” will contribute to our betterment—to our manifest destiny, lamplight of liberty and freedom.

  144. What ever happened to having immigration laws? We can't even provide for our own poor. We do not owe Hondurans the right to continue to grow their population and send the excess here.

  145. You exaggerate. A percentage will go to prison, join gangs, use drugs and contribute nothing to the maintenance of this country. We already have our native born offering such contributions.

  146. "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
    Send these, the homeless,
    Tempest-tossed to me
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

    Oh, sorry.

  147. What may have been applicable in the 19th century where there was a surfeit of free land an enormous unpopulated land mass is not appilcable to 21st century America.
    It's disingenuos and tiresome to quote that piece as justification for illegal immigration.

  148. In 1886, when the Statue of Liberty was dedicated.the United States accepted about 23,000 immigrants. Today the United States accepts about one million permananet legal immigrants per year, more than the other nations of the world combined. In additions, it aborbs nearly one million illegal immigrants per year.

  149. So where's the tipping point? Do we, the great US, just keep letting refugees and political dissenters, et al, drain our already bankrupt coffers?

  150. "...To permanently stem this flow of children, we must address the complex root causes of violence in Honduras..."

    This in no way is the responsibility of the US!

  151. So the millions of OUR citizens who consume, and profit from, the illegal drugs coming from these countries share no responsibility?

  152. Right!

    The US illegal drugsters are breaking our laws and may wind up in prison. Law breakers are also not our responsibility, except for proper punishment.

  153. Wrong. It is the responsibility of the US and all the countries in the Americas. We have hundreds of multinational corporations doing business in Central America; we have a major Homeland Security CIS port north of Pedro Sula; and our appetite for illegal drugs is fueling much of the violence. Our neighbors and longtime business partners need our help, and it is about time we diverted some of our taxpayer dollars to these areas, and away from supplying billions of dollars of arms to unstable governments in the Middle East.

  154. Israel has dealt with refugee children over the years. Villages where they could go to school and learn from each other with teachers and mentors. We should look to their example and find a way to help these children become all that they can be in a free society.

  155. Israel is teinforcing its border against immigration from Africa. It is aware that it will be swamped and overwhelmed if it allows unfetterred immigration. Refugees are roaming the streets of Tel Aviv and the natives are not happy!

  156. Issrael absorbs about 20,000 immigrants per year while the United States accept about one million legal immigrants per year pluys about the same number of illegal immirants. .

  157. Yes this is a humanitarian crisis and unfortunately it is treated as political fodder to both Republicans and Democrats. Since the election of Barack Obama congress and the U.S. political system is at a gridlock; it is keenly seen in our immigration policy and laws which are practically non-existent. American nativism and a high unemployment rate have tinctured the political debate on immigration. The republicans contend the current crisis is of Obama’s making and his inaction on immigration. Democracts blame an intransigent congress fixed on the goal of defeating the President on every request he makes. The President asks for 3.8 billion in an attempt to solve the current immigration policy; congress denies his request; when he attempts to use executive action, he is accused of power grabbing. In the mist of Washington gridlock we have children crossing the border and surrendering to local authorities and await their faith in detention centers. Because of the unsolved immigration crisis we face in the U.S., these refugee children are misperceived as illegal immigrants and face deportation. And it is these children that face the misplace anger of Americans who are frustrated with Washington!

  158. They are not refugess. Look up the legal definition before you throw the terms around. They are illegal aliens whose presence is illegal in this country. They need to be deported ASAP. The money the president wants is poorly allocated. More is needed for Border protect not to pay for lawyers for illegal aliens. In case you did not know it is against US law to use taxpayer money to pay for lawyers for illegal aliens.

    We need to change 2008 so these UACS can be treated like Mexicans and we need to change the law to stop all the endless appeals after an illegal alien is ordered deported.

  159. they will gladly take all the donations you want to give,they wasted trillions on wars in the last few years,we're broke and getting close to being a third world country ourselves.We let in so many tens of thousands of immigrants every year,and still bleeding hearts complain-remember that can stop also.There's about 50 million chinese that would like to come over,about 25 million africans that would love to be here(their more abused than in guatemala),If washingston was doing their jobs,none of this would be happening

  160. These children ARE illegal immigrants.

    They are not refugees. Each of them has at least ONE illegal alien parent already living here.

  161. These are truly refugee children escaping their own countries mainly because of drug cartel fueled violence and poverty. Most of the drugs are destined for consumers in the US. We have a moral duty to help these child refugees and the President is correct to request money from Congress to help border states solves these problems. The children cannot be sent back, they need asylum status. Thank goodness for groups like Kids in Need of Defense who are helping these children obtain due process under our Constitution.

  162. And that great humanitarian Rick Perry wants to put soldiers on the border to keep the children out.

  163. Indeed! If we can leave them on Mexico's side of the border then we can see how humanitarian the Mexican government is when they have to start shelling out to support these people. After all they are quite willing to shelter them in their trek to the US. As "refugees" their first stop should be where refuge is available. That they continue on to the US should tell you what they think of Mexican humanitarianism.

  164. Make it legal for doctors and pharma to handle demand for drugs and dry up the supply coming from south of the border. Take in these refugee children; they are our future doctors, teachers etc., like our ancestors were.

  165. I seriously doubt that many of these uneducated, illiterate, third world peasant children will be our future doctors and professors.

  166. Denial of responsibility doesn't change the facts. We consume massive amounts of drugs from Latin America. The Drug Business is largely our doing, and the War on Drugs is all our doing – thank right wingers for that. Denial of responsibility for the war on drugs from the right is appalling. It was their "war". To say now, that the traffic is local and not our problem shows a lot of nerve and it’s not accurate.

    The reasons for Migration are not simple, but if you go back far enough, you will find some root cause that we own. Banana republics, CIA ops, phony drug wars, the list goes on..

    Misguided to the last, the denial argument is convenient way to say that it’s Ok to turn the kids away, but that's all it is, a convenient excuse to treat these kids like unwanted luggage. There is such a thing as social responsibility (as opposed to the oft touted individual responsibility). We have responsibility for these kids. The Right is being venal in denying it.

  167. This is an unbelievable, heartbreaking, sickening story. Some of the comments here saying this is not our business, just block the borders or send them back, are disgusting. Especially since much of the drug trade is fueled by our habit and the failed war on drugs.

    As usual, much of objection to helping these children comes from the anti-immigration Republican right.

    We can, and we should, help these children. That is the only moral, right thing to do. To say we can't his selfish nonsense.

  168. So how do you account for the fact that this drastic rise in the influx of young people toward our borders has taken place specifically in the last few years (according to, for example, the New York Times)? Is this gang activity and violence only a very recent phenomenon in these countries? Aren't there other phenomena and events - e.g. the rise of a pro-amnesty movement and culture in the US, which includes statements and actions of powerful politicians - that have taken place during this time period, which have as much, if not more, explanatory power as your theory?

    Oh, that's right - you're arguing from emotion, not reason. Facts not encouraged. Sorry.

  169. Why hedge about it? The guilty government official is President Obama who has shown that no law is too important to enforce, no Executive Order too extreme to issue. It is he who has sent out the word to these people that that if they come he'll make sure they can stay. Another example of his lack of management skills.

  170. The republicans are howling outrage over the situation from one corner of their mouths and refusing to approve funding to deal with it out of the other. What they say is irrelevant what they do will hurt you.
    Fascism, per Sinclair, wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

  171. I happen to live right over the mountain from Nueva Suyapa in a peaceful campesino community - no walls, no gates and no violence! As others have commented, legalizing drugs would solve half the problem. However, as long as a maid from Honduras or El Salvador can earn more in half a day in the US than she can working for a month down here, people will seek economic opportunities in 'el norte'. Development to provide a future for young people is crucial!

  172. Be fair Steve. I know Zamarano, It is a big international Agricultural Institute, the largest in Latin America, started by United Fruit, protected by armed check points, with a great commissary that sells amazing ice cream, a school full of wealthy students from other countries. No cartels would come within a mile of it. It is lovely, but not typical. Honduras is a nightmare, this is just so sad.

  173. How is that solution different from what is needed in inner city Chicago or any other inner city in the US?

  174. Hey Mark: It's true that Zamorano was founded by the fruit company in 1942, but it was started to educate poor campesinos. The school is protected, but I live on a hillside nearby and there are no "armed check points" any where near my house, but I live in peace without fear. I remember in the early 90s. when my home town (Washington, DC) was known as " the murder capital of the world." In fact drug gangs have tried to make incursions in our local towns but community action kicked them out. I've been living down here for more than half of my 66 years so know what I'm talking about. And Tom Farmer, you're 100% right the solution is development to provide a future for youngsters whether in Nueva Suyapa or any inner city in the US!!!!

  175. The "War On Drugs" is a war on the poor and, in this case, a war on poor children. We use to be a country of humanitarian ideals. No more. We applaud countries in the Middle East and Africa who allow refugees to cross the border to safety. Our failure to help those in need is another example of our American "exceptionalism" in that we are exceptionally less caring than other countries.

  176. I am ashamed to be an American. Our Congress is regarding the whole issue of Children from Central America, fleeing across our southern boarder, on political terms, rather than humanitarian ones. We should be jointing with other International organization to help Guatemala, Honduras and and El Salvador solve there problems. Cure the disease, rather than focus on the symptoms.

  177. According to Reuters, the murder rate in Honduras fell by 6.5 percentage points in 2013. If the trend continues, the Honduran murder rates will return to normal for Latin America. The annual homicide rate is higher in Central America than in the United States but the annual mortality rate is much higher in the United States than in Central America. The U.S. mortality rate is 8.15 compared to 5.13 in Honduras and 4.82 in Guatemala. Every year in the United States, more than 35,000 die in traffic accidents, 17,000 die of illegal drug overdoses, and more than 16,000 become homicide victims.

  178. "Three people he knows were murdered this year. Four others were gunned down on a nearby corner in the span of two weeks at the beginning of this year."
    Sounds like Chicago . How abou we show the same concern for the kids there as well?

  179. The real victim here? TRUTH.

    It is at least as dangerous with gangs and drugs in East LA -- where many of these kids will end up.

    This is economic immigration -- illegal! -- to steal our jobs.

  180. "The United States should immediately create emergency refugee centers inside our borders, tent cities — operated by the United Nations...." You are kidding, right?

    If the federal government is not going to defend the boarders then it might as well disband.

    The same editorial board that wants a $15/hr minimum wage advocates open boarders and unlimited immigration. Surely someone can see that these two ideas can not coexist.

  181. No, they cannot. It is lefty liberal wish ideal of rainbows and unicorns and little children of every color holding hands and singing Kumbaya.

    Also: when a progressive company pays $15 an hour for unskilled work, and also health insurance -- the left wing excoriates them anyways! See: Hobby Lobby.

  182. If you believe that a young child came to America by themselves, with no supplies, no guidance, no help, you need to go do some research. It's a minimum of 1220 miles from the southern tip of Mexico to the southern tip of Texas.

  183. Believe it Randy. I've seen the kids. The article nails it. We need to face this.

  184. Since the beginning, I've tried to be a loyal Obama supporter, but I feel disappointed if not betrayed by his seeming inability to move Congress toward higher moral ground. And then "on Tuesday the president asked for $3.7 billion in emergency funding. Some money would be spent on new detention facilities and more immigration judges, but the main goal seems to be to strengthen border control and speed up deportations. He also asked Congress to grant powers that could eliminate legal protections for children from Central America (...)."
    With such backdoor maneuvering, I haven't much hope that these next two years will offer appreciable change, domestically or internationally. And who will be the next president? Will he or she be able to govern this country any better given the paralysis on Capitol Hill? I fear not.

  185. Actually the President's request contained no plea for a change to the law that made this mess possible. That's why it has been rejected. It also contained too few specifics, enough so that even Harry Reid has referred it to a committee to study what is lacking.

  186. Yes, to all the points made in this article. Thank you! Especially,"The United States should immediately create emergency refugee centers inside our borders, tent cities — operated by the United Nations and other relief groups." This aspect of a multi-faceted solution speaks to our own international diplomacy.
    This problem may have its origins in drug trafficking, but ultimately it is the same throughout our troubled world. Perhaps if we see the diaspora of refugees as a world-wide issue related to poverty and violence, our Congress may not feel so set-upon.

  187. What a total tragic mess with no easy solutions.
    –Are these kids refuges? Sort of.
    –Is US drug policy and use to blame? Yes, but not exclusively.
    –Is accepting these kids the right thing to do? Sure.
    –Will it solve the problems they're escaping? Not at all.
    –Will accepting them send the wrong message and encourage others seeking economic opportunity rather than safety? Most certainly.
    –Are there any other solutions? Yes, but none of them good.

  188. How many if the bleeding hearts here are going to personally take care of any of these children? Are they hoping that several hundred of the get relocated to their neighborhoods?

  189. We haven’t made a general determination about the countries, which we would be hesitant to do with countries with which we have good relations. But if we insist on “well-founded,” that is, according to the individual’s circumstances and not according to his living in a terrible place, how are we to verify anyone’s story? Call the police in Honduras for corroboration?

  190. The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 gives unaccompanied children under 18 the right to request asylum in the United States only if they have been recruited by human traffickers to work as prostitutes. The assertion that the 52,000 unaccompanied children from Central America are sex slaves is preposterous.

    The Wilberforce Law does not give border crossers the right to file false applications or make them legal instead of illegal immigrants. The U.S. Code states that "attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.” Pro bono lawyers who advise the Central American children to gain entry to the United Sates by filing false applications alleging they were recruited to perform commercial sex acts are advising their clients to commit a felony. Soliciting false testimony is a crime in itself. The immigratrion lawers will end up destroying a well-intention law designed to protect real victims of human trafficking.

  191. Why is this our problem? Why are all the worlds problems our problems? There are so many homeless children in our country. Why are they not our problem? Why are there so many neglected and abused children in our country? Why are they not our problem? I do not disagree that the extreme violence and disgusting disregard for human life in these countries is horrendous. But why, why, why, is it always our problem?

  192. onmyown...What makes you think it is always our problem? Wow!

  193. Really? For those who invoke the Statue of Liberty's offer of refuge to the poor and tired, please wake up to the reality of the modern American welfare state. Our nation simply cannot afford to allow failed Latin American economies to export their povery to the United States. And calling this a humanitarian crisis is pure sophistry. Is it a hunger crisis if I choose not to eat for 48 hours and then show up at my neighbor's house demanding dinner? Mexico does not have to declare a crisis, even though these people pass right through that country en route here. Why? Because Mexico profits on the transit of illegals, but then makes it absolutely clear that undocumented central Americans will not be allowed to stay in Mexico.

    The article recounts the story of a woman who used her husband's insurance money to smuggle herself into Florida and now wants our sympathy and indulgence to import her child. The answer is to re-unite her family back in her country of citizenship. This "crisis," in all of its shades and dimensions, will end when the United States makes it clear that people who enter this country illegally -- at whatever age, in whatever way and for whatever reason -- will be summarily deported, with meaningful punishment for repeat offenders.

    For those who can't quite understand the point, the children of drug-ridden Newark should start showing up at the exclusive condos on Park Avenue demanding to move in and be fed as refugees from gang violence.

  194. Ms. Nazario:

    According to WealthInsight, the number of multi-millionaires in Mexico exceeds the global average.

    Do these elites not have a moral responsibility for these children – who would be coming to them from only 658 miles – as much as, or even more than, the United States? Are you implying that these elites of Mexico do not also buy drugs? How long will people like you pretend that the sophisticated, Louis-Vuitton bag-toting, Paris-vacationing, FaceBooking elites of Latin America do not exist?

  195. This article substitutes historical facts and data with vivid personal stories to argue that Americans, because of their drug use, have a moral responsibility for the unaccompanied children of Central America. It is a compelling but specious argument employed over and over again by those who focus only on immediate short-term gains at the expense of the next generation of Americans.

    In 1991, after Saddam’s defeat in Kuwait, thousands of Iraqi Kurds, mainly from the northern cities of Erbil and Suleiminah, joined in the revolt. Faced with the specter of another chemical gas attack by Saddam, the Kurds moved in one direction – north. They did not flee to the countries where they have settled family. They did not flee to the country with the highest GDP per capita in the Middle East. Geography dictated that a majority of them seek relief from Iran and Turkey. And they did. A majority of the Bosnian Muslims from the former Yugoslavia were absorbed by Europe. A majority of Syrians, for the past two years, have been settled in Lebanon.

    Time and time again, it is geography that dictates where bona fide refugees are granted relief.

    And yet this immutable fact is turned upside down by Ms. Navario due to America’s “moral responsibility”. And yet morality responsibility goes both ways. Central Americans, too, bear responsibility for the drug-fueled violence in their countries. Denying that denies their humanity and, indeed, common sense.

  196. The immigration service wants to send some of the Central American children to a military base in Washington State. Their average age would be 14.

    The Central American countries have a different view of the life cycle. In their cultures, milestones are reached earlier. Their education ends with elementary school, if not before. They go to work, marry, and start having their own children while, here in the U.S., our children are still in middle school and in high school.

    According to the U.N. Population Fund, in Guatemala, 30% of females marry before age 18, in Honduras it's 39%, and in NIcaragua it's 43%. Many marry even younger - by age 15.

    Most of the young people who are coming here are considered to be adults in Central America even though we view them as still children, and are trying to treat them as such.

  197. The idea that the United States can't accommodate 50,000 or even 200,000 refugee children is ludicrous. If we as a nation turn our backs on these children then we have lost all moral authority as a nation. The War on Drugs is an abysmal failure, as are most of the "War on ..."'s that the US has engaged in. There is no easy solution to the drug problem that is fueling much of the violence and the rise of gangs in Central America. Corruption is rampant and the rule of law only exists only for those who cannot afford it in much of Central America. Let us show compassion toward these innocents and try to shine as a great nation again. We are better than the meanness and evil that was on display in Murrieta, CA.

  198. My daughter and her Central American husband adopted a baby from Guatemala nine years ago. He is their only child whom we adore and dote on. This lovely bright-eyed boy has more books in his room than he can read and is at swim camp now, oblivious as yet to those whose circumstances crush us. We think often of his birth mother and her profound sacrifice. Adoption is no longer allowed in Guatemala. I remember at the time, Unicef protested international adoptions, saying it was better these children are cared for by family members. I wonder what Unicef is saying now.

  199. the illegals are poor not stupid,they've been telling them what to say for a long time.An illegal is an illegal their age doesn't matter,if it's humanitarian why don't they stop in mexico,their safe there,it's money they want just like anywhere else.The board that figures costs-I forgot what it's called,has come up with a figure of 4 trillion dollars that it would cost taxpayers to take care of them over their lifetimes.As for the other countries like Syria taking in immigrants,their just replacing their population that was killed in the wars.Like I said they didn't have to travel here,just out of their country,As for tent cities and the united nations-never happen.No real AMERICAN will let another country order them around.Period Put the military on the border-deport every illegal and charge their country for all costs.The united nations is just a paper ,do nothing bunch of old do gooders that are self important egotists

  200. I don't follow the logic of this article. Even if it's true. what are we supposed to do? Open up our borders and encourage even more children to make the perilous journey? Then why stop with Honduras? Children in all parts of the world are in need. Should we just open up our doors to everyone? Sovereign borders are supposed to mean something. If they don't, what will we become as a nation and a people?

  201. All valid points but in life it's sometimes necessary to put all that aside and simply do the right thing. This is one of those times.

  202. As the column pointed out, the U.S. expects other countries to provide humanitarian aid to refugees and those countries take in millions of people fleeing violence. If we are the country we keep saying we are, we can do this and be stronger for it. We shouldn't shy away from doing the right things even when they are hard and frightening.

  203. Ed,we don't become anything other than we are now, frightened, stupid, fat, rich, confused, dupes of the wealthy and complicit in evil done in our name.
    Is this a great country or what?

  204. Winsome kids; winsome fotos.

    Therefore the US owes them?

    As some suggest, isn't this refugee problem a UN job?

  205. Don't you see it? This is about the drugs business and it concerns both the USA and Latin American, there is no way around it. "it's not our problem" simply won´t cut it. LA is producing drugs and the USA are buying them. Innocent people are dying. This whole situation is spiraling out of the Authorities' control.

  206. Make drugs legal but controlled like cigarettes and alcohol. Pull the market out from under the drug lords.
    Then deal with any problems of addiction etc as a health issue.

  207. It's easy to make humanitarian gestures especially if one is not paying a personal price. I see nothing in Nozaria's article except emotional coloring and guilt-tripping as if the gang problems of Honduras are our problem. We have enough gang problems of our own and are clueless how to deal with them. I see no suggested solutions to the causes of the problem in Honduras other than to make our own nation a safety-valve for the failures that are strictly of Honduras's own making.

  208. We exported LA drug gangs to Honduras, sell weapons to the drug cartels, and buy their product. We are totally responsible.

  209. In fact, Ed, the gangs ARE our problem, spawned on our streets (principally LA and DC) in the 1980s and deported en masse in the 1990s; in addition, our lax firearm laws allow straw purchasers to provide these groups (in Honduras, Mexico, and elsewhere) with the latest weaponry.
    We've proven ourselves to be quite adept at destroying the social fabric of countries around the world, but not so good in reassembling it.

  210. If these children were truly refugees from the war on drugs, why did it take 30 years after the war on drugs started before they showed up in masse? They are here because Obama declared he had a pen and a phone.

  211. We need to end the war on drugs - and come up with a plan B, a plan for regional economic prosperity based on human rights, human solidarity, and the rule of law.

    This influx of refugees is just the chickens of escapism masquerading and exceptionalism, coupled to ruthless economic exploitation, coming home to roost.

    If Americans are oh so exceptional, then why are we such degenerate escapists - through drugs and alcohol, fantasy-based popular culture, and ideologically-laden forms of religion and politics that never stand up to authentic scrutiny?

  212. My 2nd sentence should have read:

    This influx of refugees is just the chickens of escapism masquerading as exceptionalism,...

    Another day, another typo...

  213. "Starting in 1823 with the Monroe Doctrine (a ‘civilizing’ policy of ‘America for the Americas’), the USA has butted in on many of Central America’s affairs. William Walker notoriously tried to take over the region in the mid-19th century and spurred on the era of ‘banana republics, ’ the unfortunate tag for some of the region’s more bendable governments. As bananas started bringing in big money, the US-funded United Fruit Company took control in 1899. In 1954, when the Guatemalan government planned to break up large estates into small private plots, the CIA orchestrated an invasion from Honduras. Soon after, the Guatemalan civil war broke out, leading to 200,000 deaths.

    In the 1980s Ronald Reagan channeled US$500 million to back the Salvadoran military, and illegally sold weapons to Iran to fund the Contras fight against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas." You can also research our colonization of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines, Haiti and more.

    Today, our once proud country is beginning to resemble a Banana Republic and the GOP is still conniving to champion large corporations like the United Fruit Company to rob from the poor to give to the rich, by force if necessary. There is a nasty bit of karma playing out here and we as a nation have sins to account for. We are not innocent here and should do our best to correct the sins of our past.

  214. Honduras reads like a “failed state” with essentially no regard for the borders and lawful governance of the United States. If the United States and its allies can chasten Vladimir Putin and Russia for behavior in Ukraine, surely something can be done to curtail the wholesale transfer of the problems of Honduras to this country.

    When do a country’s actions or policies rise to a level that threatens U. S. security—directly or indirectly? If governments can’t be held accountable for problems like those in Honduras which drive thousands of its citizens to the U.S., it seems that we must either intervene or offer blanket amnesty to all refugees who reach this country.

    By the way, how is a closer neighbor, Mexico, reacting to the fleeing refugees? What is Canada’s policy toward such immigrants? They too are part of the Americas.

  215. Our buddy Mexico last week sealed treaties with several Central American countries to give safe passage to all illegal immigrants heading to the US. It's called pass the buck. We need to cut off aid to Mexico immediately, which apparently thinks that we will continue to take millions of its own illegal immigrants, and let them remit $25 billion untaxed US income to Mexico without consequence. Mexico has the best of both worlds in this scenario.

  216. It breaks my heart to know people are separated. It breaks my heart the adult in the home country would not seek help to stabilize their live and drive our the gang.

    it breaks my heart to see gang are roaming freely into the United State from South of the border.

    it breaks my heart to watch the cooked up picture of gangster.

    It breaks my heart to see so much drug traffic from south of the border.

    It breaks my heart to know people coming to america mainly to get JOB illegally.

    It breaks my heart to know it is the greedy businessman in United State is creating an illusion breaking law is OK.

    It breaks my heart to see the mom risking their young children life to hike across the boarder.

    It breaks my heart to see tax payers, some work 3 jobs, forced to support these greedy people while these law breakers demand and exercise their right. At the same time the US citizen doesn't have tap water; while US would put free water for these law breaker crossing the boarder.

    It breaks my heart to know the auto insurance is going up due to more people on the road w/o proper document or car insurances.

    talk is cheap; stop the gang in those country.

    stop separating families, fight the law breakers in their home land.

  217. All American military out of Afghanistan ,Europe, and Iraq . 500,000 American military should invade Honduras , eliminate the government and seek out and kill all the drug dealers. That solves a large part of the problem. Letting El Salvador and the Guats know that they're next will motivate them to cleanse their country of drug dealers. Finally we should take in all children who come to our border, house them, feed them educate them and train them to go back to their countries in 10 years, fully armed and ready to rule.

  218. These stories are sad but these nations are not at war, the have domestic and civil issues which they must address. Countries go through this, even our own. We've had our periods of civil war and civil protests, gangsters, organized crime and even today we have drugs, gangs and violence on American streets. Where do our kids run for refuge?
    It all seems more like the U.S. should begin a more rigorous "War on Drugs" that reaches deeper into Latin America. The solution is certainly not to absorb all the children from three nations.
    Children from Iraq, warring nations in Africa and other places of the world can make a better claim for refuge.
    South American governments should ask for U.S. military help to police their streets and get their nations under control. Fleeing the country for these non-war domestic issues hardly rises to the level of refugees and asylum.

  219. This compelling article fails to make one important point. Many if not most of the guns used by those gangs are purchased in the U.S. And as states continue to make it easier to purchase guns, they insure that the violence in Central America will continue.

    Yes, there is a refugee crisis along the southern boarder of the U.S. Foundation to this crisis are markets in the U.S. for illegal drugs and an unwillingness of American citizens to enact laws that would prevent the sale of guns to the armorers who supply the gangs with their weapons.

  220. Let me get this straight. The US has been installing corrupt governments in Central America for longer than my life-time and I’m 79. Most recently they threw out Zelaya. Oh, I know, that was an internal coup. Back when the Church committee denied funding to support the contras’ attempt to take back Nicaragua for United Fruit Company, Reagan began selling arms to Iran for funds to arm the contras. He also began to use drug trafficking to finance this illegal war. When Gary Webb reported this in the San Jose Mercury News, he was fired and later, after he repeatedly voiced fears for his life, he died under suspicious circumstances.
    And we wonder that there is drug violence south of the border?
    If there were space it would also be useful to reflect on the effects of NAFTA that has allowed the likes of Monsanto to destroy Mexican farmers.

  221. This amoral anarchy is funded by America's war on drugs. We obviously didn't learn anything from Prohibition. When a mind-altering substance is criminalized, it merely creates an amoral underworld around distributing the substance. In the 19th century, opium was traded on the open wholesale market, and its price was listed along with other goods in the wholesale prices current in major newspapers. Nobody suffered terribly from that, and there were no drug gangs anywhere in this hemisphere. America, take responsibility for your immoral stupidity! You bray Christianity, but you promote Hell.

  222. "It would be a disgrace if this wealthy nation turned its back on the 52,000 children who have arrived since October, many of them legitimate refugees.
    This is not how a great nation treats children."

    No, but lies are what the promise of America has been all about and lies are what we get. From the president and our "government" and the Republicans all the other laissez-faire capitalists who take advantage of the people (and that includes children) for "bucks". Bunch of hypocrites and liars. And you don't have to come from Honduras to be a part of that. It's right here at the top in America!

  223. We must save these children, even though ALL the data shows (and ALL the important Democrats know) that the grandchildren on non-Mexican Hispanic American immigrants tend to be somewhat conservative and tend to vote Republican. This is why the administration is unsure of what to do.
    I say open up the borders and save the children now! Forget politics!

  224. The sentiment so far among NYT readers appears overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing every type of drug out there. OK. No question the war on drugs is a failure.
    But do you really believe that it is merely a question of legalizing the organics such as coca leaves, poppy plants and marijuana?
    Do you really believe that sophisticated chemists won't continue ( as they already have for years) to spike "organic" drugs with more and more potent additives?
    I don't have the answers but at least I know I don't have the answers.
    But let's ponder one significant question:
    Do Americans simply need to acknowledge that millions of us are simply narcissistic babies in dealing with everyday problems by getting buzzed into a false sense of euphoria?

  225. Very sad. I don't even have the words to express how sad I feel about this...

  226. (sarcastically) Nice to read compassionate Christians being their oxymoronic selves...

  227. The war on drugs is just anther scam sold to us in the guise of morality, but actually feeding a trillion dollar industry of enforcement and incarceration. This travesty must be stopped. Is there no moral center left in this big corporation we call a nation?

  228. One is certainly sympathetic to the desperate plight of the children mentioned, but rationalizing a mass migration through a comparison to the Syrian situation and expecting the US to be the sole answer to all catastrophies is unfair. Where are Brazil, Argentina. Costa Rica and other Latin American countries in contributing solutions and offering sanctuary? The answer to all Latin American problems cannot be a mass exodus to the North.

  229. The very gangsters that terrorize these families are spreading the amnesty lie. It has been reported on NBC and NPR. On top of that they are running a massive scam on the American people and our leaders, trying to make an end-run around our immigration laws, by storming the gates with children. The cynicism of it all is staggering.. It may seem hard-hearted, but all of these children should be returned-at once. A clear message should be sent with them. Latin Americans should quit voting with their feet, being passive about the atrocities around them and demand effective governing and law enforcement from their leadership. Personally I take strong exception that this crisis is entirely of our making. We are not the relief valve for neighboring failed states.

  230. When I was much, much younger I experimented a bit with illegal drugs. The major reason why I decided they were not for me besides the personal health issue was the realization that every dollar I spent on these drugs was ultimately going into the pockets of the most vile people on earth and I was not going to support them any longer.

    If you want to smoke pot, move to Colorado. Or fight to change our ridiculous drug laws.

  231. Anyone who abhors this situation, but refuses to support the decriminalization of drugs, has blood on their hands, and capital sin on their souls.

  232. "Give me your tired, your poor
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
    Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

    Thanks Sonia, I read "Enrique's Journey", I have been to Honduras eleven times. You said it all. The children I met in Honduras were like these. Your mention of countries like Jordan taking in refugees is particularly telling.

    Too many of the descendants of those who passed through the "golden door" are trying to shut it behind them. We own this problem, we must face it.

    This crisis is no surprise. Now what?

  233. America has decided that we are not the world's policeman as we continue to disengauge from evil around the world, so why are we suddenly becoming the world's child welfare provider?
    This problem belongs to the home countries and we should provide reasonable assistance but we cannot continue to absorb vast and apparently unlimited numbers of "refugees".
    I call them "refugees" because the statistics show that they are learning from the administrations actions that this is a guaranteed ticket to come and live in America... and not coincidently, become democrat voters when they are older. Another example of the evil being perpetrated by this administration.

  234. Decades of U.S. government destabilizing Central and South American governments is one reason the drug cartels are so prominent.

    ...remember Ronald Reagan, Oliver North and the Contras?

  235. Reading about what these children go through is heartbreaking. It’s a tragedy. How can one not be touched? But to solve the problem some non-emotional issues must be addressed. Read the NYT pick by Steve, who lives in Honduras. He has a point.

    How many Central American adults send their children to Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile? Very few, I guess. Economics is a factor when choosing where to go. Public educational and healthcare systems may well be another consideration. Finally, this is a matter involving tens of thousands that can mushroom into millions if not contained.

  236. We reap what we sow, from the (American) banana barons of the early 20th century to the contra bases in the '80's, all the while making sure their domestic institutions remained weak enough for our vultures to pick up the leavings. Why are we surprised?

  237. We are a country of immigrants, not illegal immigrants. When our 'huddle masses" entered Ellis Island, they were documented. We are teaching our children that is alright to break our laws as long as you don't get caught. When I see American children struggling with drug addiction, I wonder how they obtained these illegal drugs. If we are going to fight the war on drugs we need to stop the drugs from illegally entering the country. We've sent a message to South America that we won't stop the drugs or the illegal immigrants. How can we protect our laws?

  238. After we dig R. Reagan up and try him for high crimes and misdemeanors with respect to his dealings in central America, we should turn that six hundred billion we annually award psychopaths in the defense industry into humanitarian aid. And not last to get some would be Native Americans and the descendants of slaves in this country. I for one would rejoice when it came time to pay my federal taxes.

  239. The adds for smoking showing the horror of smoking have helped. Maybe we should have drug ads on TV, magazines, etc. showing the death and destruction is having on others. For example an ad showing a dead child and saying that if you use drugs you helped murder this child.

    Supply follows demand.