What duty of care do we owe to other people’s children?

By Caitlin Kelly


If you have been paying any attention to U.S. news, you will know that the southern border of the United States has been pelted with desperate would-be immigrants heading north from Central America. Many of them are children and teens arriving alone.

(And the crisis is hardly unique — a recent follower here at Broadside blogged a similar story about the immigrant crisis there — in Italy, {and written in Italian}).

In the past few weeks, the California town of Murrieta has become a flash point, with some people physically blocking the road as buses enter their town for processing by federal authorities. Others welcome them.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Hundreds of people gathered on the road to the Murrieta processing center, anticipating another convoy of vehicles containing immigrants.

The number of protesters swelled Friday despite the summer heat, the Fourth of July holiday and a police strategy that mostly kept the groups apart and away from the processing center.

In a reversal from earlier in the week, there were substantially more demonstrators on the immigration-rights side.

Authorities kept the road to the center clear and the protesters in check, although scuffles did break out. Murrieta police arrested five people for obstructing officers during an afternoon altercation. One other person was arrested earlier in the day.

The group protesting the transfer of the immigrants to California waved American flags and chanted “USA,” while across the street demonstrators responded with, “Shame on you!”

The current flood has promoted President Obama to request $3.7 billion to address the crisis; from USA Today:

As thousands of children continue streaming across the nation’s southwest border, the White House asked Congress on Tuesday for $3.7 billion to improve security along the border, provide better housing for the children while they’re in custody and to speed up their deportation proceedings.

The White House also wants to increase assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where most of the children are coming from, to help them stop the rush of people leaving there and to improve their ability to receive the expected influx of deported children.

Stephanie Gosk, a reporter for NBC Nightly News, traveled to a Honduras town plagued by gang violence to find out why this flood continues — and will do so.

It’s interesting to note which children are welcomed into the U.S., where and why.


Here’s a story from the Deseret News of Utah about the patriotic thrill one writer felt in welcoming children from Burma, Somalia and Uganda:

Children of all ages swarmed my daughters as they searched through the bin of donated soccer cleats trying to find the right sizes. It was simultaneously heartbreaking and exciting as the girls slipped cleats onto bare feet but more often than not had to repeat “too small” or “all gone” or “I’m so sorry.”

The rudimentary apartment complex is adjoined by a soccer field where organized games for children of all ages are played. They form teams according to age and nationality, creating a mini World Cup right in their own backyard.

Most of the refugees from this particular apartment complex are from Somalia, Uganda and Burma and are assisted by Catholic Community Services of Utah.

A one-time LDS Church meetinghouse in the area has become a bustling refugee center where many gather every afternoon for English lessons, health screenings and assistance with finding a job. I was told the immigrants received vouchers for food and clothing as well as home visits for the first six months. Soon after they are required to pay back the costs of their airfare to the sponsoring agency and try to be self-sufficient.

And, in a move of total desperation and naivete, a young mother, 20-year-old Frankea Dabbs, from North Carolina recently abandoned her 10-month-old baby girl in her stroller — on a smelly, hot New York City subway platform, telling police after her arrest she thought it was a safe public place to do so.

I wrote about these unaccompanied minors when I was a reporter at the NY Daily News, back in 2005 — it is not a new issue, but one that has suddenly exploded into national consciousness.

Here — for those with a deep interest in the issue — is a long and deep (17 page) analysis of it from 2006 in the Public Interest Law Journal, which cites my newspaper piece in the footnotes.

These stories push every button within us, as readers, viewers, voters and taxpayers: compassion, outrage, frustration, indignation,  despair.

What do you think Obama should do?



Promising Toronto Folksinger Taylor Mitchell, 19 — Killed By Coyotes

Image via Wikipedia

A 19-year-old Toronto singer was attacked and killed by two coyotes while hiking alone this week in a provincial park in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, reports The Globe and Mail.

“This wouldn’t even be considered a yearly event,” said Germaine LeMoine, a spokeswoman for Parks Canada, which oversees the seven-kilometre trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. “It’s extremely rare in the history of the park.”

Taylor Mitchell had just begun her career, already working with some of Canada’s top performers.

“Colin Linden, a veteran Canadian roots performer and producer who works with Nashville artists, was similarly struck after Ms. Mitchell opened for him at an intimate show Sept. 10 at a small venue in Pickering, Ont. It was their first and only meeting.

“She was really talented, she was really smart and she was a really good-hearted person,” Mr. Linden said from Winnipeg. “I thought she was one of those people who was going to be a lifer, a musician for a long, long time.”

How Do You Say Rabid in Japanese?

Ursus americanus
Image via Wikipedia

Wildlife, it seems, is getting a little wilder.

A black bear broke through the locked French doors of an Aspen home recently and attacked a woman within. With only one Department of Wildlife officer in the town, residents are being told to be more careful if and when they encounter a bear. Since July 1, reports The Wall Street Journal, 460 people have placed calls reporting bears wandering through that town.

On my walk today I saw a woman staring in wonder — at 5:00 on a sunny suburban afternoon — as a fat, furry raccoon crossed the path in front of her and waddled into the woods. A couple who had passed her saw me walking in that direction and wondered, as I did, why she didn’t avoid the animal

“Raccoons aren’t supposed to be out in daylight. You’d better warn her,” they said. I walked fast and caught up to her, but, carrying a book in Japanese, she was quite likely one of the many foreign students at our local residential language school. I wasn’t sure that saying “That animal might be rabid. Best to move along quickly” would be clearly understood. A neighbor across the street recently told me she had to stand between her dog and a coyote to protect her pet. This, on a New York road only 25 miles north of Manhattan.

As I began my walk, a deer stood in the middle of the concrete path, unconcerned that two women were walking towards it from opposite directions. It very slowly meandered about six feet away up a hill and stared at us calmly. It’s lovely to be so close to nature, really, but between Lyme disease-carrying ticks, food-seeking bears, curious coyotes and insomniac racooons, something’s gotta give.

I overheard a confident young woman in a trendy cafe in Toronto recently, explaining calmly and reasonably — which seemed somehow a very Canadian conversation — how she would react if she ever ran into a bear. “A bear wouldn’t attack me,” she said, “because I wouldn’t do anything to annoy it.” I hope she’s right.