woody zimmerman 118 2007When I was raising my own children, I could always be had by a bedtime plea of “Dad, I’m hungry…” A ritual bowl of cereal and some late-evening fellowship always followed. At our house, a child never went to bed hungry. I knew I was being had, but I didn’t care. An emotional impulse to hunger is deeply imbedded in the American character. Indeed, it plays out in our social attitudes up to the very latest moment. I and millions of my countrymen won’t let anyone go hungry, if we can do anything about it. This has cost us big bucks at the national level, but we are willing to pay the price.

Occasional personal encounters in my own life have reinforced that attitude at odd times. Years ago, when my sons were little guys, we were on a routine outing to our local shopping plaza in Maryland. It was a bitterly cold January day. As we walked from the car, a shivering young man stopped us to ask for money. His coat was very thin and his lips were blue. He had a drinker’s pallor and was obviously freezing. I declined to give him money, believing that he would just drink it away, but I asked him when he last had something to eat. He mumbled that he couldn’t really remember.

The local 7-11 store was nearby, so I invited him come with us and pick out whatever he wanted. He selected some sandwiches, cookies and milk – maybe a few other things. After I paid for them, he tore away the wrappings and began to eat. I don’t think I had ever seen someone eat as a starving man eats, but that young guy certainly did. My sons just stared as he gobbled the food. I fought back a tear, and my brother, who was with us, brushed at his eyes, too. I remember thinking, “My god! Are we in America?”

As we parted, the young guy thanked us and quietly admitted that he would have used money to buy more wine. Our reaction to him on that cold day is what I believe most Americans would do. We don’t want anyone – certainly, no child – to starve, even if he or she has come to our country under unlawful or questionable circumstances. This is the source of our great quandary today, in the midst of the Invasion of the Children in South Texas.

During the last six months, tens of thousands of Central American children – mostly unaccompanied by adults – have arrived by the busload at the Texas-Mexico border. Under current law – dating from the G. W. Bush presidency – Mexicans or Canadians entering illegally can be deported immediately, but persons who come from countries not contiguous to the USA must be given a hearing to determine if they are refugees from oppression. At present we have interned upwards of 60,000 minor children from Central and South American countries. At this writing, they’re still arriving.

The word on the street is that Department of Health and Human Services officials won’t let Republican senators or representatives speak with any of these Latin American “refugee” children. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was allowed to visit some of the children for a photo-op in which she emotionally declared that she wished she could take all of them home with her. But no other federal, state or local politicians have been allowed to speak with or photograph any of them. Even clergy are being kept out. One official said this policy “respects the privacy” of the children.

Does anyone wonder what info might be obtained from these kids that the Obama administration doesn’t want disclosed? Might someone spill the dirty secret of this pathetic episode: i.e., that human traffickers have been paid thousands of dollars to ship these crowds of pathetic children to America’s border. Parents who paid to get their children to the USA have clearly done so to procure a better life for the child, or in the hope of using the child as a means for gaining entry to the USA at a later time. Or perhaps both.

When a child of tender age, apparently unaccompanied, shows up at the Texas border, saying he is from Guatemala or Ecuador, what would a normal person ask of him? Surely, we would ask who helped bring him here, because we would know that no child of that young age could accomplish such a long, arduous journey without adult help. Some adults have to be involved. Who are they? Yet today I heard a border agent say on the radio that they were not allowed to ask such questions. Their sole duty was to record the children, get them cared for, and prepare them for “legal processing” and placement across the country.

So far, the latter effort is not going well. Busloads of children shipped to Murrieta, California, were turned back by crowds of protestors, causing the buses to be rerouted to a processing center near San Diego. Although Americans don’t want children to be hungry, they don’t necessarily want their schools and other local institutions to be flooded with refugees.

If investigators could interview these “refugees,” they would certainly learn who was paid to bring them here. Some children would be artless enough to let slip the identities of their “shepherds.” Obviously, though, the Obama administration’s policy is not to know – and to make sure no one else knows.

The fundamental question about this modern Children’s Crusade is this: What made legions of Latin American parents think that their children would be allowed to live in the USA, if they could just reach the border? But the secondary question – the really dirty one – is: Did political agents of the Democratic Party and/or the Obama administration spread the word in these countries that the time to get into the USA is now?

I don’t know the answers to either question. We may never know the answer to the second question, unless someone on the inside spills the beans. But some determined investigative reporters can probably answer the first one. Tracing some of the children back to their original families is all that’s needed to learn where the idea to ship their children north came from. Of course, that would require talking with some of the older refugee children. So far, they’re off limits (except to trustworthy Democrats).

An invasion the size of this one – consisting exclusively of children who can’t be deported immediately – can hardly have been a spontaneous event. It had to have been planned and orchestrated to set up a crisis situation which would either: (1) force Republicans to enact “comprehensive” immigration reform; or (2) make them look like heartless racists who refuse to give succor to helpless children; or (3) create a media circus that will distract the public for months. Any of these would be winners for Democrats.

I’m not the first to say that Democrats need a miracle to avoid a fall election catastrophe that could cost them their control of the U. S. Senate. The Kiddie Invasion could be that miracle, if Republicans stumble around and fail to treat it as simply an unforeseen consequence of well-intended, but flawed legislation. It can readily be amended so these legions of children can be repatriated without delay.

If it turns out that this situation really was orchestrated by Democrats, then a once-honorable party will have hit a new low by cynically using children for political advantage. I hope it ain’t so, but at this point the signs and portents are inauspicious.