By: Mike Brill, political science
UD College Democrats President
As you may have heard in the news, the United States is in the middle of an immigration crisis. Tens of thousands of Central American children are making their way across the border illegally, seeking asylum in the United States. The majority of these children are fleeing dangerous conditions in their home countries such as political instability and gang violence. Others are attempting to escape rural poverty and find economic opportunity.
The United States must decide if these children should be treated as illegal immigrants or as refugees that must be taken in. While that is being decided, the U.S. must care for these children and take emergency action to prevent the crisis from worsening. As a response, President Obama has requested that Congress appropriate an emergency $4 billion to help care for these children and increase border security. While Congress continues to delay a decision on this appropriation, the city of Dayton mayor, Nan Whaley, has offered to have Dayton take in these unaccompanied immigrant children.
This decision has sparked a debate between Mayor Whaley and Dayton-area congressman Mike Turner. Rep. Turner just announced last week that he is sponsoring legislation that allows states to prevent cities like Dayton from housing these immigrant refugees. The Congressman believes that Dayton should not house these children, because it would be a burden to the region economically and socially. However, Mayor Whaley and City Manager Tim Riordan have found two city-owned facilities in which the children could be temporarily housed.
The federal government would then pay for all expenses involved in caring for these children. It is clear that there are few drawbacks to the mayor’s initiative, and that Dayton is being very generous and humanitarian showing hospitality to these immigrants. Because the University of Dayton is a community that houses ten thousand of Mayor Whaley and Congressman Turner’s constituents, the university should take a stance on this issue.
As a Marianist university, UD should vocally oppose and lobby against the Congressman’s legislation. The Marianist charism embodies the values of inclusivity and community. These values call us to accept diversity and respect the human dignity of all those in our community. The UD administration should let Rep. Turner know that, as a UD alumnus, his new bill goes against his alma mater’s Marianist tradition.
The university administration has supported the Welcome Dayton initiative in the past, and should continue to do so now in light of Congressman Turner’s recent actions. Just as the increasing number of international students on UD’s campus has brought growth and diversity to campus, housing these immigrants will bring growth and diversity to the city and to the UD community.
Author’s update 8/08/14: The immigration issue had changed since I originally wrote this opinion article. U.S. Health and Human Services told the City of Dayton on Aug. 7 that they will not send immigrant children to Dayton or any other cities that have offered to host them. Although the issue has changed significantly, the debate is still important because U.S. Health and Human Services has not ruled out taking up the city’s offer in the future.