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OPINION: Are we doing right by migrant children?

This July 26, 2018, file photo shows people lining up to cross into the United States to begin the process of applying for asylum near the San Ysidro port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico. (Credit: Gregory Bull, AP)

Nearly six months after the initial flurry of discussion over Donald Trump’s policy of separating migrant families at the U.S./Mexico border, hundreds of children remain in U.S. custody. Budget cuts, personnel shortages and other logistical issues are resulting in cut corners across the board.

On December 2’s edition of A Woman’s View, I asked my guests — are we doing right by these children?

For Heather Barney, Communications Director for Senator Orrin Hatch, the answer was unequivocal: “We have a duty to do a better job with the kids.”

Christine Cooke, Education Policy Director at Sutherland Institute, addressed the added ethical burden when dealing with children.

“Border issues are always a balancing act of safety and security of the nation and also being humans. We have a higher duty where children are involved,” Cooke said, before continuing, “it comes down to money and logistics sometimes. It’s a tough issue.”

Barney noted that, despite the children receiving what she considers substandard care, significant amounts of money are being spent at the border.

“I am concerned, too, with how much we’re paying as taxpayers to not care for them. Someone is making a lot of money,” Barney said. “There needs to be better oversight. We need someone who will expend political will to address this issue.”

Dr. Brenda Reiss-Brennan, Mental Health Integration Director for Intermountain Health Care, also touched on poor usage of tax dollars.

“These kids need to be protected and cared for. I’m paying taxes and what are they being spent on?” Reiss-Brennan asked. “We’ve always taken care of people who are under stress or threatened. I think it’s all a political show right now.”

Cooke discussed America’s waning status as a “beacon of light” for immigrants in search of opportunity, noting that many migrant families are turning around after last week’s teargassing. While many are saying this exodus proves Trump’s border strategy effective, Cooke worries it comes at a cost to America’s international image.

“I think that’s an interesting statement for migrants to say they don’t see a chance for a better life in America anymore, because that is something that has always been kind of a beacon of light to people,” Cooke said. “I still believe America is the greatest country on earth, so that’s kind of an interesting, sad state of affairs for that to be the case.”

A Woman’s View airs Sundays at 8 A.M.