That, of course, is not the message the New York Times was trying to send (or maybe it was! I should give them come credit), but that is exactly why 12-year old Noemi Álvarez Quillay, an Ecuadoran “unaccompanied minor,” is dead.
Here is how the sad story from Saturday begins, thanks to ‘pungentpeppers’ for passing it along:
Noemi Álvarez Quillay took the first steps of the 6,500-mile journey to New York City from the southern highlands of Ecuador on Tuesday, Feb. 4, after darkness fell.
A bashful, studious girl, Noemi walked 10 minutes across dirt roads that cut through corn and potato fields, reaching the highway to Quito. She carried a small suitcase. Her grandfather Cipriano Quillay flagged down a bus and watched her board. She was 12.
From that moment, and through the remaining five weeks of her life, Noemi was in the company of strangers, including coyotes — human smugglers, hired by her parents in the Bronx to bring her to them. Her parents had come to the United States illegally and settled in New York when Noemi was a toddler.
Noemi was part of a human flood tide that has swelled since 2011: The United States resettlement agency expects to care for nine times as many unaccompanied migrant children in 2014 as it did three years ago. [Expected to be 60,000 this year!—ed]
Readers, we have written a lot lately about the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s program for ‘unaccompanied minors’ which serves as an enticement for families to attempt to send their children across our borders alone, or with the help of smugglers. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services are both beneficiaries of government grants to help take care of the ‘kids’ once they get across the border.
Nomei’s parents left her with her grandparents when she was 3-years-old and the parents illegally went to the US as economic migrants, not refugees. They recently got money together to hire a smuggler and insisted she join them in New York. Read the article, she didn’t want to go!
A counselor interviewed by the NYT said this:
“Now we are seeing that the migrants are small children or teenagers whose parents are sending for them, running the risk of putting them in the hands of the coyotes to whom they pay 15, 20, 25 thousand dollars,” said Ms. Choglio, the guidance counselor.
Here, in my view, is the lesson from the whole sad story. Nomei was not abused or subjected to violence, she was happy with her grandparents (they had raised her!):
The minors coming from Central America and Mexico are “propelled by violence, insecurity and abuse,” the United Nations high commissioner for refugees said in a report issued the day after Noemi’s death. The prospect of immigration reform in the United States is also enticing, Mr. Lopez said, because of the belief that anyone already in the country illegally will be allowed to stay.
That is why Nomei is dead.