While much of America seems caught up in dumping ice cold water over their heads, we have a sobering reality still spilled across our southern border.

Yesterday, I mentioned that my colleague is leaving for Cameroon with the Peace Corps, ostensibly to provide coaching and assistance for the 90,000 refugees, mostly women and children, who have come into the country since last December (AlertNet, 6/4/2014). They come, starving, across the border, seeking sanctuary and a better life.

While I am all for the raised consciousness for ALS (http://www.alsa.org/news/archive/als-ice-bucket-challenge.html) and the quite impressive amount of additional funding they have raised, I can’t help but wish someone was crafting a catchy marketing slogan for the children at American’s own detention centers.

Lest you think that our problem is not as serious as the one in Africa, let me point out that we currently have approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US.¹ Reports are circulating that many of the children crossing the border are not being sent away from parents. They are being brought up, trying to reunite with family members who are already here.

Our government, lacking a strong policy within its own borders, has launched a propaganda campaign within the three major countries of deportees, advertising the risks of travel. Reports Laura Carlsen  (Director, Mexico City-based Americas Program of the Center for International Policy; columnist, Foreign Policy in Focus):

“First, parents and migrating youth are not naive. They usually know the dangers, which include injury, rape, extortion, kidnapping, and even death. Parents carefully consider the risks before making the decision to spend thousands of dollars to send their children away.

The three countries responsible for the increase in child migrants are Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Honduras has the highest per capita homicide rate in the world, with El Salvador and Guatemala in fourth and fifth place, respectively. In certain neighborhoods in these countries, the homicide rate is far higher than the already high national rate, and young people are the most at-risk of all.

That’s why many Central American parents have concluded that the greatest risk is keeping their kids at home.”²

Whether fleeing from or running to someone, the situation at home has become untenable for these people. Current numbers look something like this: “The number of children making these journeys by themselves has doubled each year since 2010. U.S. authorities estimate that between 60,000 and 80,000 children will seek safe haven this year.”³

This was big news a couple of weeks ago. Due to the capricious nature of the internet, news, and our government’s ability to adjust our focus….and our own sad lack of it….we’re on to buckets of ice.

I’m not calling out any of my friends who have, generously and with good humor, donated $10 or $25 and taken the hit. Goodness knows that Lou Gehrig’s disease is cruel and a cure would be a welcome miracle. Any miracle these days is welcome, isn’t it?

The irony is that one of our young employees is leaving to assist in a refugee crisis outside our country while one rages in our southwestern states. Are other countries sending in their young adults to help with our situation?

Or would people swallow a tablespoon of hot sauce (a nod to Tex-Mex cuisine) to raise our collective consciousness?  Eat a habenero pepper and film it?

Actually, that last is a bad idea. Research has shown that people who “support” things online are less likely to become actively involved with it or stay involved.

“Research this year from Canada found the more public a person’s activism is online, the less likely they are to act in a meaningful way.

“By publicly supporting these causes, you say, I’m a good person,” diminishing the need to provide follow-up support for the cause, said Kirk Kristofferson, a Ph.D. candidate in marketing at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.

If a non-profit thinks that a public declaration of support leads to meaningful support, “we find that this belief may not be accurate,” according to the summary to Kristofferson’s April 2014 paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research.”

Where is all the outrage from June? Hot tempers have melted away in the summer sun, with a fun, silly, and impacting (short term) campaign. The cold reality is sleeping in cots in detention centers.

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Sources

¹http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/21/us/central-american-family-agony-child-border-crossings/index.html

² http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-carlsen/blowback-on-the-border-am_b_5600425.html

³http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/13/us/immigration-undocumented-children-explainer/index.html

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/08/18/ice-bucket-challenge-als-association-social-media/14232745/

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