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Letter: The threat of failed statehood

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Somalia became a failed state in the 1980s and 1990s. It was not able to maintain order. Violence and lawlessness ruled. Armed gangs controlled the streets. Armed militias employed the strategy of “join or die.” Since then more than 84,000 Somali refugees have entered the U.S. Countries bordering Somalia remain in turmoil as the lawlessness has spread.

During just the last seven months we have experienced over 52,000 unaccompanied minors crossing our borders. They are also fleeing violence, lawlessness and armed gangs in countries with weak and ineffectual governments. These children are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Others are from Belize, Panama and Costa Rica. According to The Center for American Progress, we might expect “as many as 90,000 children by year’s end.” They are fleeing gangs with a recruitment strategy of “join or die.”

Poverty? Who can overcome poverty in the face of such lawlessness? Honduras has become “the murder capital of the world” with El Salvador and Guatemala close behind. These kids qualify for refugee status for the same reason as the Somalis.

There is a debate as to what to do with them. Our immigration officials will have to follow the law if the Obama administration decides to abide by it. Here is the real problem: A number of countries to our south are in the same condition Somalia was in the 1980s.

We cannot afford to have a number of failed states in this hemisphere! It will generate a flood of refugees which will make the current influx of kids look like a picnic. This lawlessness has spread. It threatens the stability of Mexico. We are arguing about what do about the symptoms and ignoring the problem which rests partly in the U.S. We cannot afford to let it happen.

Jim Schwarz

New London

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