My view: Amnesty towards border children is not compassionate and will not solve problems

By Chris Herrod, For the Deseret News

Published: Tue, July 22, 2014, 12:00 a.m. MDT

 In this July 10, 2014, photo, children watch television at the \

In this July 10, 2014, photo, children watch television at the "Todo por Ellos" shelter for migrant children in Tapachula, Mexico. Once detained the border the U.S. generally releases unaccompanied children to parents or relatives while their cases take years to wend through overwhelmed immigration courts. That reality gave rise to rumors of a new law or amnesty for children.

((Eduardo Verdugo, Associated Press))

The truly sad but predictable tragedy of 60,000 unaccompanied children detained on our southern border, with another 90,000 predicted this year, should be constantly in the news headlines. Unfortunately, unaccompanied children crossing our borders is nothing new, only the degree to which it is happening. Why wasn't their concern before?

One of the most basic laws of human nature is that you get more of the behavior that you reward. Our community understands this principle when dealing with terrorists. It overwhelming believes that we shouldn’t negotiate with them because it encourages more violence and puts additional innocent victims at risk. Of course, most illegal aliens aren’t terrorists, but the principle of reward is the same. As clearly demonstrated recently, this puts others, especially children, at risk when we reward such behavior.

Unfortunately, our desire to appear compassionate has increased behaviors that actually cause more pain and suffering. Good intentions are not enough. Sound policy that leads to decreased misery is what’s important. Leaders being concerned with 60,000 unaccompanied children crossing our borders is not new; only the total is new. Why wasn’t there concern before? Toleration of illegal immigration has always encouraged illegal crossings.

It’s frustrating to see the lack of consistency by humanitarian groups in Utah. Many discourage Utahns from giving to panhandlers because it encourages more of it and is dangerous to those participating. But this is not even on the same level as immigration. In reality, which is more dangerous: standing by the side of a road with children or giving young children to ruthless traffickers for a 1,500-mile journey? Utah learned about rewarding illegal immigration when the Legislature passed HB116 in 2011. As warned, illegal immigration only increased.

Until recently, many Utah leaders were touting the Utah Compact. The principles sound good, but it’s been used to promote amnesty and has exacerbated the problem. Will these leaders now take responsibility for the consequences of pushing amnesty and years of toleration for illegal immigration?

We need to send reporters to the border. There, they can report about how life-savings are wasted when drug cartels tip off the border patrol about illegal alien crossings so to divert attention away from drug cargo.

Balance the stories of illegal aliens being deported with those about legal immigrants’ difficulties as they try to reunite their families in the United States. Report on the consequences for Utah residents: Utah County lost another citizen this past year to an illegal alien drunk driver. Broadcast journalists airing stories on the heroin epidemic in Utah County should mention the role played by illegal immigration. Cover how Utah’s leaders’ actions only propagate more illegal immigration.

But instead of this coverage, what often happens is those who express concerns about illegal immigration are often called uncompassionate and un-Christian. True compassion, however, recognizes the importance of responsibility and occasionally giving “tough love.” Unfortunately, our nation refuses to make the difficult choices and our children will bear the consequences.

Utah leaders have said that it is unrealistic to think that you can do anything about those already here. Recent events show it’s unrealistic to think that amnesty will stop the problem. Imagine what will happen when such policies are actually passed.

I hope many re-evaluate the name-calling and finally recognize that tolerating illegal immigration is not compassionate and amnesty will not solve the problem.

Christopher N. Herrod is a real estate developer and former member of the Utah House of Representatives from Provo.

1. Hamath
Omaha, NE,
July 22, 2014

Just like welfare is not compassionate. Thousands in my city suffer from it. They don't have the initiative they would have had without the free handouts. I was about 40 before I finally made it above the poverty line. We never took food stamps nor lived gov't subsidized housing, even though by doing so we would have saved lots of $$$. BUT.... by NOT doing so, I had great incentive to improve my situation. I kept at it and kept at it and finally got to the point where I was making a decent salary. I'm not rich, but I don't qualify for food stamps anymore! And guess what... during those poverty years, without food stamps and all those "compassionate" initiatives, my family and I survived. We found ways. We were never destitute enough to even need to call on family or church assistance for food, rent, etc. We just adjusted and survived.

2. Say No to BO
Mapleton, UT,
July 22, 2014

I have yet to hear a politician explain how "reform" in the form of legalization of those here illegally benefits our citizens and our society. As Mr. Herrod points out, it certainly rewards bad behavior, and it solves a myriad of problems for the illegal aliens themselves, but what are the benefits to the tax-paying citizens?
I fear that the "reform" Washington is selling will not fix the real problem. I believe the real problem here is that no one takes our immigration laws seriously. The situation is out of control. In a shrinking world we need to control who (and how many) are allowed to come here. We cannot possibly accommodate everyone who wants to live here. And it is unfair to reward the self-selected.
The current situation of children flooding the border is a microcosm of the larger picture; they are taking advantage of loopholes and a lack of enforcement. And no one in Washington has the political will to change that.

3. Ryan J
Bozeman, MT,
July 22, 2014

I don't think we can generalize this situation. This article negative events of illegal immigrant in Utah to Children showing up at the U. S. border and makes the argument that we should not help these children because it would only hurt them. This does not make logical sense in my mind. Just because someone made bad choices in Utah doesn't absolve us from the responsibility of caring for the poor or those that are in need. This is a fallacy of association. Providing immediate relief to suffering people in my view is compassionate. I agree that providing basic needs of food and shelter are not enough to fix the situation. More can be done to educate and sustain. More can be done to help fragile governments. But I completely disagree with the argument that providing relief for these children is not compassionate.

4. Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah,
July 22, 2014

Obviously we have to navigate between compassion and sound policy. But conservatives like Mr. Herrod are whipping up so much hatred (oh, unintentionally, I'm sure) among the red-meat fringe that there is now a real prospect of riots and violence on the border--not from the immigrant side, but from our side!

5. procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT,
July 22, 2014

This border crisis is just Obama's Mariel Boatlift fiasco. And, the Ukraine is his Iran Hostage Crisis; the Benghazi debacle, his Desert One; Lois Lerner his Bert Lance; etc., etc., etc.

Rather than emulate America's greatest Democrat Presidents, Obama appears bound and determined to overtake Carter as America's worst President.