Alabama Congressional representatives Martha Roby and Mike Rogers were quick to reject the idea of using Maxwell AFB to house immigrant children detained at the Mexican border. They released a statement expressing concern for the critical role the base plays in national defense and that our military personnel would become distracted.
"The housing, feeding and caring of immigration detainees would severely compromise the critical mission at Maxwell-Gunter," the congressmen wrote. This asinine response doesn’t make sense from a historical perspective.
As a retired military officer who served two tours at Maxwell, I would like to point out that a federal prison camp has been located on the installation since 1930. The prison houses over 800 adult inmates who work throughout the base and we have always accomplished our military mission. But the presence of children awaiting immigration hearings will suddenly prevent our military from accomplishing its mission?
I would also like to remind our distinguished representatives that it was Congress who set the rules on dealing with child migrants under the Bush administration. Congress set a particular process in place as a way of fighting human trafficking and much of it was codified under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act in 2008.
These unaccompanied children need care and compassion. But given Roby and Rogers’s response, I can’t help but wonder if their reaction would be different if these were blond haired, blue eyed kids on our northern border as opposed to brown skinned Hispanic kids from Central America.
Michael E. Waters