America’s children need to be the priority in the immigration debate: guest opinion

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Let me tell you about my idea of a perfect world.

It’s where the United States is a nation with a thriving economy.  Where all able-bodied Americans are in the workforce.

It’s a nation where we, as citizens, control our own money, and the size and scope of the government is as limited as our founders intended.

It’s a place where the majority instead of the minority of people engage in community involvement and volunteerism. Where the political process isn’t just about election time but is about holding our elected officials accountable at all times and involves an informed electorate.

Crime is low in the U.S. Philanthropic giving is high. No child goes hungry. No child is left in an abusive home, on the streets, or in unloving group settings.

Our education system is the best in the world and our nation is on the forefront of science, technology, space exploration, the arts and music.

It is in this world that if refugees came by the thousands we could find them shelter, provide them resources, and as communities we could integrate their needs into ours and once again be the great melting pot.

That’s just not the case today though.

We have millions of families relying on billions of dollars in welfare including housing, food, and medical assistance. We have an education system that throws good money after bad and leaves kids in failing schools that only seem to get worse over time.

Right here in the Birmingham area we have impoverished neighborhoods sitting just on the outskirts of some of the wealthiest areas in the state. We have children who don’t own books, don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and don’t have the comfort of safety in their own houses.

Which brings me to the problem at hand, children flooding into our nation by the hundreds and totaling beyond thousands. First let me be clear, no one objecting to the massive influx of illegal children has a problem with the children themselves. I believe we can all, regardless of political affiliation, say we want the best for these kids, but our obligation rests first on the children and citizens legally living in our nation and facing poverty, hunger and illness.

One of the defining features of our nation is that we have a government defined by our constitution and held together by the rule of law. When we start picking and choosing which laws to follow and when to follow them, even based on “humanitarian” reasons, our nation doesn’t stand a chance.

I know, I know, we are talking about minors here. The idea of thousands of children hauled through multiple countries by mules and human traffickers is simply too much for me as a mother to even consider. I can’t imagine the fear and confusion that the young ones are facing. Many made this trip alone only to find themselves housed in massive detention facilities without familiar faces.

That doesn’t change the reality that we as a nation aren’t in a position to house, feed and provide for these children. We aren’t a nation of unlimited resources and endless support. We must look no further than the most depressed and crime-ridden neighborhoods within our own region to know this.

I’m all for helping others once we have our own system figured out. But in the meantime, we aren’t doing anyone any good by overburdening an already-taxed system.

We need to return these children to the nations that they came from. To slow the numbers, we need to secure our border, and then seek to increase penalties for those found in our country involved in human trafficking.

Our state department needs to cut off aid and support to those who refuse to accept their responsibility and attempt to put these families back together. As for those children who are here and have family already living in the shadows expecting to be reunited with them, we should allow those families the opportunity to come forward and return home with their children.

This crisis isn’t a Republican or Democrat problem. No one wants harm brought to these children but we cannot ignore our laws, open the floodgates and welcome those we aren’t able to care for — at least not until we are able to ensure that every child already here has the resources they need to thrive, grow and pursue the American dream.

This column appeared first on AL.com.

Apryl Marie Fogel is a new Alabama resident who works as a conservative political activist.

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