Forget the border. Let's protect kids fleeing gang violence in Chicago!

  • Updated: July 30, 2014 - 5:33 PM

Imagine what $3.8 billion could do to make our own endangered children safer.


Shaneetha Goodloe, left, mother of 11-year-old Shamiya Adams who died after being shot this month in Chicago. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/MCT) ORG XMIT: 1155204

On the Chicago block where that 3-year-old boy was shot in the stomach, a victim of the city’s murderous gang wars, there was a woman watering her flowers.

“Please don’t put my name,” she said, her thumb directing the spray. “Don’t put my name.”

Her arm kept moving back and forth on a sunny day in the 4400 block of South Sacramento Avenue, a neighborhood of two-flats where tourists don’t go.

It was clean and tidy, and I remember it as a boy, with the Polish and Lithuanian housewives scrubbing the sidewalks with bleach and broom.

“I came here 20 years ago,” she said, still watering. “It was good. Now they shoot all the time. They shot a baby right there the other day. A baby. Now I want to leave, but how can you sell the house?”

She pointed with the hose to where the child had been shot last week. The water spattered on the sidewalk.

This child lived, but others don’t. They’re gunned down almost every day in Chicago, their places of death marked by makeshift shrines, and later commemorated in funerals where the dead are told they will never be forgotten.

Their families remember them. But the city forgets. There are new ones all the time.

From that spot on South Sacramento where the boy was shot, it is some 3,000 hard miles southeast to the state of Francisco Morazan, one of the most violent areas of Honduras.

Children and teenagers from Honduras, we’re told, trek across Mexico to the U.S. border, where they and others from Central America cross over illegally and seek aid.

And President Barack Obama wants to help them. He’s asked for $3.8 billion to tend to their needs.

As a father, I feel for those kids on the border. But a father’s responsibility is to his own children first.

And a president’s responsibility is to his nation’s children first, especially if they’re being shot down in his political hometown. American children are his priority.

The border crisis is in part the Obama White House’s making. Soon, I expect, he’ll use it as an excuse for executive action on immigration policy that he could never get through Congress before November.

“You never want a serious crisis go to waste,” said Obama’s chief of staff in 2009, a fellow named Rahm Emanuel. “And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you could not do before.”

Emanuel is now the mayor of Chicago, and the other day announced that he wanted Chicago to accept a thousand refugees.

Of course, he gets the politics of this. The mayor is seeking re-election and he’s having troubles with African-American voters. He doesn’t want to upset the Hispanic vote as well.

If you’re from Chicago, you understand the politics too. It’s about using the violence of Central America and the young refugees as a fulcrum so Obama can apply federal leverage, as Democrats tie up the Latino vote for generations.

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