By James M. Perry
"See now that you don't look down on these little ones," the Bible says (Matthew 18:10). "For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these (Mark 10:13)."
Do these Americans, most of them Christians, who turn apoplectic with rage at the children from Central America crossing into the United States, actually read the Bible? It doesn't seem so.
"Our continued existence is at risk with what's going on at the southern border," Rep. Louis Gohmert of Texas says.
Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, even hints that these Central American children are being "lured into the country so that they would grow up to be Democratic voters -- agents of a President whose own Americanness has never been accepted by many in the Republican base," says Amy Davidson in the New Yorker.
Some GOP congressmen and county sheriffs have even referred to the children as "possible predators, gang members, and bearers of the sorts of diseases that might have been found in the holds of nineteenth-century ships -- as anything, really, but children," Davidson says.
In Oracle, Arizona, State Rep. Adam Kwasman spotted a yellow bus filled with children heading into town. "Bus coming in!" he shouted. "I was actually able to see some of the children in the bus -- and the fear on their faces," before it drove away, Kwasman told a reporter.
"You know," the reporter said, "that was a bus with YMCA kids" returning from camp.
Oracle was settled by Canadians who sailed around South America to get there, looking for gold and silver.
Most of these unaccompanied children come from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, all of them centers of gang violence and drug trafficking. Honduras, Wikipedia notes, has the highest murder rate of any nation in the world. El Salvador comes in second. Poverty, gangs, and low conviction rates of criminals are usually cited as the causes.
The reasons for this sudden surge in children from Central America crossing into the United States aren't entirely clear. Most of them have been told, incorrectly, that the United States would welcome them. Most House Republicans, though, want to deport them, and the legislation they have proposed calls for a much faster process to send them back home. Crossing into the United States from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala requires an immigration hearing that must occur not more than seven days after they are screened by child-welfare specialists, and the judge would have to make a ruling within 72 hours after the end of the court proceedings, David Rogers noted in Politico. But House Republicans would provide just $12.9 million for additional immigration judges to handle a crush of Central American children seeking to escape the violence in their homelands.
And they would provide nothing, not a dime, to pay for lawyers to represent them.
"I tell you the truth," Jesus said (Mark 10:13-16), "anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them."
James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, is contributing regular observations for post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of the The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.