"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
These optimistic words at the Statue of Liberty welcomed many of our ancestors to Ellis Island, the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station for millions of immigrants entering the United States from 1892 until 1954.
Even if there are Americans, including some of our leaders, who don't believe in American exceptionalism today, this nation is still the envy of the world, evidenced by the 1.3 million non-Whites that have been moving here every year. That figure is expected to swell to over 3 million a year, not including the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants arriving annually.
In the past nine months 50,000 unaccompanied children immigrants have crossed our borders with smugglers who know they can cash in on kids who receive much more lenient consideration at the borders. The big difference between now and a century ago is that our ancestors who entered were being legally processed.
An estimated 60,000 to 90,000 illegal children are expected to enter the U.S. before the end of this year. When we hear politicians like Rep. Nancy Pelosi (net worth $58 million) telling us that the tens of thousands of illegal children pouring across our southern border should be regarded as an "opportunity," not a "crisis," we wonder if she would consider opening the doors to one of her own homes to shelter an immigrant child. Since over 85 percent of non-Whites vote Democrat, it's hard not to discount politics as a motivation for her words.
What is certain is the fact that allowing thousands of children to enter our borders is causing huge immediate problems and poses major future challenges. Reports have already surfaced that some of these children now being quartered in mass shelters are carrying communicable diseases, including scabies and swine flu.
The number of illegal children pouring across the border will eventually stress our schools. Most children now living in shelters do not know English, so more teachers will be needed.
One example is in Fairfax Virginia., where schools are bracing for 40 percent new students who don't know English and require new teachers. More than one-third of the 13,424 kindergartners in that county also qualified for free or reduced-price meals, a federal measure of poverty, and that number will escalate.
School officials in the Miami-Dade county school system, meanwhile, are asking for additional federal funds to help educate a wave of young children smuggled into Florida from Central America. The school board is seeking federal help to provide $1,950 per student above state funding toward costs to educate hundreds of students flooding into that district.
Hearing politicians like Pelosi pontificate about America caring for "all God's children" makes for a good sound bite on the news, but that kind of rhetoric won't solve the mounting problems that exist. No one wants to see children turned away, but in order to prevent the kind of border chaos and the crisis we're now experiencing, administration officials first need to have a game plan.
By Jim Zbick