The Good, Bad and Ugly



While mobs of Ugly Americans shamelessly strut their stuff, cursing and spitting at buses transporting children who fled to America in fear of their lives, the wise words of Pope Francis must not go unnoticed.

Decrying the “racist and xenophobic attitudes” facing undocumented immigrants,  the pontiff put the crisis in perspective with laser-like accuracy and commanding moral authority:

This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected. These measures, however, will not be sufficient, unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin.

What more is there to say?

President Obama should take heed. Congress should take heed. The American people should take heed.

The Great American Experiment is being tested once again. And the world is watching.

It is no secret that the children are refugees from Latin American hell holes created partly by US policy in the past and the drug abuse epidemic of the present.

Americans cannot in good conscience shirk their responsibility. Not only Catholics, not only Christians but all Americans will be judged on their response to this heartbreaking deluge of terrified and abused children.

The US is quick to condemn other countries when they fail to respond with humanity and dignity to refugees from adjoining hot spots. Now, it is America’s turn to show the world how such crises should be handled.

And it will not be enough to ensure the safety and welfare of these children temporarily. It is cynical and heartless to send them back to face the terrors they are fleeing. Yet that seems to be what the President is doing. The $3.7 billion he is asking Congress to approve will be used to hire more border guards, more judges and more law enforcement agents, to warn residents of Latin America that they will not be able to stay in America, and to provide food and shelter for the refugees until they can be sorted out and sent home.

As far as I can tell, not a penny is being requested to address the root of the problem – the unbearable conditions in countries that have fallen into the hands of tyrants, drug dealers and lawless gangs.

It would be cynical and short-sighted to ignore the depravity in countries like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

America has an overriding moral obligation to help its Latin American and Caribbean neighbors develop sustainable economies and  tolerable living conditions. Catholics have a moral obligation to intervene. Christians of every faith have a moral obligation to intervene. The world has a moral obligation to intervene.

It is time to launch a massive global initiative inspired by the pope’s words:

Above all, … promote development in their countries of origin.

And in the meantime, let’s stop cursing and spitting at the unfortunate kids. They’ve been through enough already.

The AP photo above shows immigrant families who entered the U.S. illegally standing in line at the bus station after they were released from a Customs and Border Protection processing facility in McAllen, Texas, in June.

Click for the Pope’s statement.

Click for a sample of “racist and xenophobic attitudes.”