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Compassion, American style

In this July 7, 2014 file photo, immigrant families and children's advocates rally in response to President Barack Obama's statement on the crisis of unaccompanied children and families illegally entering the United States, outside the Los Angeles Federal building. Tackling what he has called a humanitarian crisis, Obama on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 asked Congress for $3.7 billion to cope with a tide of minors from Central America who are illegally crossing the U.S. border, straining immigration resources and causing a political firestorm in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

Everybody seems to agree that the thousands of immigrant children scrambling across the southern border deserve compassion.

“Some of these children will be sent back to their home country but we can’t ignore the legitimate cries for help from refugee children,” says Washington Senator Patty Murray.

But it turns out there are very different approaches to showing that compassion.

The Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino says its simple – you provide food and shelter and try to reuinite families.

“I think these are human beings and they have the same dignity and worth that you and I do. We are called to help them and give them aid,” says the diocese’s John Andrews.

For Pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, that’s not compassion, that’s almost cruel.

“I think the most compassionate thing we can do for these children is to secure the border. Having these unsecured borders, we are enticing mothers and children to make this dangerous journey,” says Jeffress.

Some children will stay and probably grow up here, others will go back home and try to grow up there.

No matter what happens to them, we will be able to say it was all done out of compassion.

But it can get confusing.

“True compassion really would be to attack the root cause, which I’ll restate again is the intensives we are creating for for parents to send their children on this arduous journey,” says Senator Ron Johnson, explaining that sometimes the best way to show true compassion is not to be too compassionate.

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