George Will on what the message to migrant children should be: ‘Welcome to America’

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, conservative columnist George Will had some harsh words for those who insist that the waves of migrant children crossing the border from non-contiguous nations in search of asylum.

“We ought to say to these children, ‘Welcome to America, you’re going to go to school and get a job and become Americans,’” Will insisted.

He seemed to suggest that those who advocate for the deportation of South and Central American minors underestimate America’s power to assimilate foreign-born populations.

“We have 3,141 counties in this country. That would be 20 per county,” he added. The idea that we can’t assimilate these eight-year-old criminals with their teddy bears is preposterous.”

Fox host Chris Wallace sounded a note of skepticism when he interrupted Will to add that he could sense viewers already sending in angry emails contesting the syndicated columnist’s iconoclastic take on the border crisis. Will countered that the waves of immigrants America took in and assimilated in the 19th Century vastly outnumbered the present influx.

He said that the greatest counter to illegal immigration ever passed by the United States was NAFTA, “which it put the Mexican economy on the road to prosperity.” Will advocated for a similar free trade agreement with Central American countries and a plan to reduce America’s illegal drug consumption in order to arrest the flow of immigrants from unstable countries like Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

Will is not the first conservative commentator to take the view that the United States should treat border crossing minors differently from other illegal immigrants.

Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, writing in Politico Magazine this month, made a similar case and outlined a logistical framework focused on churches and charities which would facilitate the assimilation of Central American children fleeing violence in their home countries.

A Pendleton base of operations will instantly attract the support and contributions of goods and services from the amazing network of churches in Southern California, just as it did in 1975. Pastor Rick Warrren and Orange County Bishop Kevin Vann need only summon their thousands of colleagues to a meeting and the short-term needs of these children will be met by volunteers bearing toys, food, clothing and English lessons, as well as adult supervision of the best sort. (Pendelton borders Orange County on its north, home to both Warren and Vann. Their San Diego counterparts would no doubt also throw all in.) It would be a giant Vacation Bible School without the Bibles, but it would work.

Likewise, if officials put in charge of assigning adoptees to applicant parents are caring, non-ideological officials, perhaps jointly credentialed by a body jointly selected by House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama, the adoption process will proceed quickly and with little fuss. Children will end up dispersed all across the country. The lucky ones will be in Northeast Ohio where they can become LeBron fans instantly. The less lucky ones will be sent north to Minnesota where the sun doesn’t shine but the Lutherans are welcoming and the State Fair fabulous.

Overnight they will be on the road to being Americans.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on January 30, 2023