07/30/2014 07:18 pm ET Updated Sep 29, 2014

Dereliction of Duty, Part II


After my post yesterday of this same name, hundreds of people 'liked' it, shared it online and posted comments. As is often the case in issues that have a political character to them, such as this issue involving 47,000 unaccompanied children from Central America, many people used this as a forum to attack President Obama.

I do not take political points of view, I take children's points of view -- and children do not understand politics or vitriol that many of you expressed.

First of all, let's get the facts straight:

  1. In the 1980s, faced with a flood of immigrants from the instability in El Salvador and Honduras, the Reagan administration and Congress passed legislation effectively creating a legal "due process" for handling those who arrived at the border. The legislation calls for immigrants to be housed, fed, provided with medical attention and given "due process" using immigration courts to determine if they are worthy of asylum or should be deported to their home country.
  2. Under the Homeland Security Act of 2002, passed by Congress and signed by President George Bush, unaccompanied children who arrive at our border are to be taken into custody and, reaffirming the law passed under President Reagan, they are to be properly cared for and allowed to find relatives in the USA to live with while "due process" is taking place.
  3. In 2008, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (passed in the waning days of the Bush administration) calls for children to be put under the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (part of the Department of Health and Human Services) while "due Process" is taking place.

These are the legal facts surrounding this issue. In all fairness, these laws were passed when the number of unaccompanied minors arriving in the USA was much smaller than today and the reasons for their arrival were different as well. We are a nation of laws, and these are the laws on the books which must be followed until and unless Congress acts to change them.

Yes, there is a case to be made that we need to secure our borders, but that is a separate issue from the 47,000 (and growing) flood of unaccompanied minors here and arriving daily. Unfortunately, whether you like President Obama or hate him is totally irrelevant to this issue. The laws are clear and Congress passed them. To ignore the laws would put any President in the position of being open to contempt of Congress or worse.

Thus, my blog of yesterday. This responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of Congress--435 Representatives and 100 Senators, Republicans and Democrats, ultra liberals and tea party conservatives -- who will leave for a month-long vacation without passing legislation necessary to provide adequate services for these children and/or changing the laws regarding the process. In fact, even if Congress acted today to change the law, all those already here would be "grandfathered" under the existing laws passed in the 1980s, 2002, and 2008.

What is needed from them right now is adequate funding to care for the children and to provide them with the "due process" that our legal system says they are entitled to. If we do not, then these children will languish in detention, they will not be properly fed and clothed, and they will not receive adequate medical care or education, even though our own laws require these basic services for them.

I hope all those who want to make this a political issue, or use it to attack the President, will carefully consider the facts and stop thinking about their political agendas just long enough to remember that these are children--alone, in a foreign country, without some basic services -- while 535 Congressmen and Congresswomen party and vacation in comfort and splendor.

Demand that they stay on and pass a budget to care for these children while the courts decide their fate and while Congress considers legal changes for the future. That is the law. They passed the laws... they now need to stand up for the laws they passed.