A Crisis of Conscience: Don’t Blame the Children for Being Refugees

July 29, 2014
By Immigration Attorney, Sean Lewis


The American media and many U.S. politicians are a twisting the reality of the border crisis to serve their own agenda. There is a true humanitarian crisis causing people to flee extreme violence in Central America. These people are the most vulnerable segment we as Americans have faced since Vietnamese refugees (the “boat people”) started arriving in the late 1970’s. During that crisis, the media did not blame the refugees themselves for seeking protection in the United States. Unfortunately, times have changed and Americans are in a crisis of their own: a crisis of conscience.

The media and certain politicians, including Tennessee’s own Representative Marsha Blackburn, are on the “bash the children” bandwagon. In a certain sense, blaming the children and Obama for a crisis caused by rampant corruption, dire poverty and extreme violence committed with impunity by gang members is popular today. Many Americans are simply fed up with hearing our paid and elected representatives refuse to deal with solving the broken immigration system.

The border crisis is symptomatic of a president and law makers who are totally focused on votes rather than doing their jobs. Obama could have addressed immigration reform as he promised when he was first elected but he raced into health reform instead. He threatens executive action, but, of course, is waiting closer to the next round of elections to do so. House Republicans and Tea Party officials have always vowed to obstruct immigration reform and continue to do so to this day. The American media is eating this up. Take for instance Marsha Blackburn’s recent comments about the current refugee crisis:

“The thing that is incredibly sad to me is that these children and families that are in Central America who are being preyed on by the Coyotes are just pawns in this administration’s political agenda, and this push to force the issue of immigration reform.”

“It is imperative that the president be resolute, that he take the leadership in this situation, that he work with these governors to make sure the border is secured and that he makes sure to let these countries know these children will be coming back home. They are not going to be staying here.”

“The public health security of our nation, issues with smallpox and scabies and TB—those are true concerns for Americans and for the Border Patrol working to end this, and the National Guard who are on the border, and for the direct-care providers in these facilities trying to care for these children.”

The “incredible sadness” in Rep. Blackburn’s comments is that she makes unfounded claims that these children are diseased and are pawns of the 2012 Obama administration’s policy to grant work permits to certain undocumented people who were brought to the United States as children. Of course, those seeking refuge from murder and rapes arriving in 2014 do not even qualify for 2012 deferred action status. They are placed into deportation proceedings. In terms of which of these refugees were properly vaccinated or have scabies and smallpox, Blackburn has absolutely no data. The “sad” Ms. Blackburn and others like her absolutely have no plans to resolve anything whatsoever. Of course, these disease-ridden children and Obama are the cause of the violence and humanitarian crisis.

This is not the party of Ronald Reagan, this is not the same dialogue taken to refer to the Vietnamese Boat People or refugees by our media years ago. This is a crisis of our own conscience and a total lack of leadership and honesty in government and in the media.

Sean Lewis is an immigration attorney based in Nashville, Tennessee. He may be reached at 615-226-4236.