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Churchill, America, and Doing The “Right Thing” in our Refugee Crisis

Churchill, America, and Doing The “Right Thing” in our Refugee Crisis

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Getty Images

Americans will always do the right thing, only after they have tried everything else," —Winston Churchill*

Indeed.

In dealing with America’s moral and political crisis at our southern border, it’s time to get to the “right thing” faster, because the “everything else” isn’t working.

Ever increasing Draconian measures are not the answer. After all, what is more Draconian than separating child from parent, perhaps forever?

Yet the refugees come.

We fail because we misunderstand the problem. These people are NOT economic migrants; they are refugees.

Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are, for the most part, failed states.

Worse, unlike the Syria in the Middle East, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are failed states in America’s hemisphere.

Unlike economic migrants of past generations, who were mostly young men looking for seasonal stoop & tree labor in the fields, the current flood of refugees piling up at out gate consists of families, often women or children fleeing alone.

These refugees flee what all refugees flee:

  • drug wars,

  • gang violence,

  • starvation,

  • the agricultural effects of a severe drought,

  • profound food insecurity.

I cannot cannot find it in my heart to blame a parent for doing everything she can to feed her children and keep them safe, even if that means losing them to an inefficient immigration system at the American border.

No native-born American parent would do less.

By now it should dawn on us Americans that letting refugees pile up at the US border is no better than doing what should be done:

The Right Thing

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has repeatedly called for a new Marshall Plan, this time for Central America.

After World War II, The Marshall Plan stemmed the flood of refugees into allied controlled nations by providing what they needed most: safety, shelter, food, & employment closer to home.

As conditions improved at home, the greatest majority of those refugees drifted back to where they came from.

A new Marshall Plan for Central America is the “right thing.”

The United States should begin work with the Mexican government and the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to do “right thing.” An international solution to a international problem. (Which, unfortunately, will require quite a bit of fence mending with the UN, given the dog’s breakfast we’ve made of international relations.)

The US & Mexico should set up temporary catchment camps in Southern Mexico and provide the refugees with what they need the most:

  • shelter,

  • food,

  • safety,

  • protection.

There is a substantial role for American faith communities to put their faith into action by supplying these refugee camps. I read an awful lot about Christian values in this country, but they’re hard to find on the ground. This would be an opportunity to put those values into real Christian action.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” —Matthew 25.


This idea holds much appeal for the Mexican government, which has been searching for decades for ways to improve the economy in the Southern Mexican states. A long-term influx of transportation, warehouse, building, managerial, medical, food preparation and security work would be a boon to the region. A new Marshall Plan for Central America would also be a boon to American agriculture & manufacturing.

Second, The US must take the lead in straightening out the failed states in our own hemisphere. To not do so means an endless flood of refugees.

Militarily, if necessary.

Both the United States & Central America will have to find a way to get beyond our ugly and contentious histories in the region.

While we can’t do much about the persistent crop killing drought in the region, we can ease it’s human toll.

We can also convince the narco-terrorists infesting the region to move on.

Will it be expensive? Yes, but so is The Wall. And the US ends up caring for the humanitarian crisis piling up at our gate anyway.

We help because, at heart, that’s what America does. It’s what defines us as a nation.

It’s time to bite the bullet now & do the “right thing.”

*Biographers cannot locate this quote in any of Churchill’s writings or speeches. But, as Virginia Senator Mark Warner says, “If Churchill didn't say it, he should have."

Central American migrants surged across the United States border with Mexico in record numbers in May...
— NYT: Border Arrests Surge to Seven-Year High as Mexico Tries to Head Off Tariffs

The Northern Triangle of Central America (“NTCA”), composed of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, is considered one of the most dangerous places on earth, which has caused unprecedented levels of migration
— UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR)



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