Immigration: Part II - Unaccompanied Minors

This summer, the story on immigration began to focus on the surging numbers of unaccompanied minors at the borders.

From liberals, we heard impassioned pleas to welcome these increasingly teeming masses of children out of our bottomless compassion, and shaming language directed at the greed and selfishness of anyone who objected. From conservatives, we heard cautions about their possible criminality, dependency, and ill-health. From libertarians, we heard schizophrenia, on the one hand, acknowledgement of the growing burden of sheltering them while authorities decide whether to deport them, or increasingly, to welcome them as refugees; on the other hand, railing about the injustice of turning any away when “no doubt” (according to them) there are plenty of Americans willing to take them in as an act of private charity.

One thing that’s been played up to no end are the allegedly dire circumstances these children are fleeing. But while some of these kids certainly face dire circumstances, not all of them do; probably not even most of them. Most likely what they’re “fleeing” is a difficult, impoverished, but ordinary (by their standards) life.

Raising your own kids to adulthood can be, you know, kind of a drag. So their parents deliberately sent them to their fates, entrusting their children to the hands of dangerous smugglers because they thought that if they PUT them in harm’s way, we would be moved by compassion to take them in as our own.

This is a little like the gypsies who throw a baby at you in the hopes that you’ll try and catch it so they can snatch your purse. Only the gypsies at least usually post someone as backup to catch the baby if you let it fall.

It may seem harsh to turn these kids away, penniless, hundreds of miles from home, or whatever. But if we don’t, if we send the message that this strategy actually works (and it is basically an act of brood parasitism, like the cuckoo’s) then more parents will send their kids through danger, to their possible deaths, towards the US border. It will, NOT end. That’s not the incentive we need to CREATE, because it will kill more kids in the long run, and it will be a cost and a burden for us that spirals out of control.

I mean, this just makes it obvious how silly Bryan Caplan’s “immigration as the solution to global poverty” soapbox is.

These kids aren’t here for a job. They’re not going to be independent or self-supporting for years, if ever. They’re here for a free ride. You can’t drink from a fire hose. 134 million children are born every year, most of them in the third world. The solution to global poverty, if there is one (which is doubtful) cannot be welcoming them into the first.

And the kids who are here on their own initiative, who do have the wherewithal to cross multiple borders and travel hundreds of miles on their own to get here, don’t represent any better deal for us. Motherjones chronicles the plight of one Adrian, a precocious lad fending for himself on the mean streets of Guatemala, abandoned by his crack-addicted parents, shaken down and threatened by brutal gangs, until he picks up and heads off for the greener pastures of el Norte. What follows is a veritable crime spree as he begs and steals his way across Central America and Mexico to the Southern Border of the US, where he’s mysteriously granted legal status and ends up in a special public school for children like him.

Sounds like he has the makings of a model citizen.

But at least he’ll pretty reliably vote Democrat.

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Northman is a latter-day barbarian who dwells in the frigid wastes north of the 60th parallel pondering the ills of the day, their possible remedies, and -- ever so infrequently -- dispensing the dig