Guest Column: The Time Is Now

Letter to the Editor

It is time for us, as a nation, to decide on the collective set of values and obligations America stands upon, and stands up for. No one can do this important, introspective and thoughtful work for us, but ourselves.

There are currently over 52,000 unaccompanied children that have crossed the U.S. border since October 2013. This is a 92% increase from the same time last year. These children have come mainly from Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and Honduras. The top three cities are all located in Honduras, which is currently the murder capital of the world. In Guatemala, 30% of its people are living on less than $2 per day.

These are clearly places on our planet where violence and aggression have become a staple. This is not an immigration crisis, as much as it is part of an on going and massive international refugee crisis that has been expanding across many global borders. As Americans, we find ourselves faced with a humanitarian crisis of responsibility and obligation that some, including our elected officials, seem to not want to look at, or care to understand, the root cause of the global refugee crisis. What we may want to discuss (particularly inside the beltway) is not the “speedy removal” as President Obama stated as part of his $3.7 billion proposed plan, but the collective values and obligations we have as American citizens, and what we would like reflected as it relates to the influx of refugees fleeing their countries in real humanitarian need.

We, in collaboration with our government, must now craft and focus our thinking on how we as a nation want to stand on the issue of refugees. Let’s put aside the violence, murder and poverty for a moment and look at the climate refugee issue that we as a nation are also a part of. By 2050, it is predicted that 150-200 million people will become climate refugees. This statistic is currently being used by the IPCC, the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, as well as NGOs—including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace Germany, UNESCO, UNHCR and many others—as a guide to what we will be facing in the upcoming decades.

There is a clear and present danger to our humanity as a whole if we as a nation do not take the time for the thoughtful introspection needed to address our obligation on this issue as a participant on the world stage. Refugee issues from humanitarian causes to climate changes are on track to become one of the most important, pressing and reoccurring issues of our nation today and for children into the coming decades. 

Instead, it seems our government is looking to adopt a Band-Aid approach that will most likely extend unnecessary suffering and accomplish little. It is my prayer that we as a nation begin to focus our attention to the state of what is real in preparation for the safety and protection of human life that is now being threatened by the ever-growing number of refugees, already displaced by corrupt and dangerous political systems, as well as the significant changes in our world’s climate.

Amy Alcini is founder and CEO at Politics of Conscience. She is a writer and political activist.