Leadership, compassion needed to address humanitarian crisis at the border

The Central American children arriving at the border are no threat to U.S. communities, and politicians should stop trying to stoke fear.

There are few ways to see the influx of small, school-age children making a dangerous trek from Central America to this country as anything other than as a humanitarian crisis.

Yet, far too many politicians are seeing it as something else: a political opportunity, a chance to stoke fear. They’re cynically depicting these children – and the federal government’s attempt to shelter them at military bases – as a threat to their communities. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is that we are dealing with children who are trying to escape a desperate and dangerous situation. They are not terrorists. And they deserve our compassion. But when you compare Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s defensive response to the welcoming attitude of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, it appears Southern hospitality is much more abundant in New England.

The dire predictions we’re hearing are simply wrong – and irresponsible. This situation presents real challenges that can only be addressed by true cooperation between state and federal officials. It’s time for state leaders to demonstrate leadership – not score political points. It’s the only way to ensure that these children are treated humanely and in a manner that upholds our values as a nation.