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immigrant border AP 980
It's not certain that immigrant children will be housed at JBLM, but in the meantime, there is plenty of debate about it. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Rodolfo Gonzalez)

What's to be done with 600 immigrant children potentially coming to JBLM? KIRO hosts respond

There is no official decision yet on whether Joint Base Lewis-McChord will be used to house around 600 Central American children who crossed the border unaccompanied, but rumors they may be sent here are getting mixed reactions.

There are concerns among those that live near JBLM regarding the impact this might have on the community. The Seattle Times quotes a letter from Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking for more information.

"Decisions are being made in the dark that impact our community and we want to responsibly address those areas of concerns," Anderson said.

Nonprofit and church groups are readying to welcome the children, preparing for the possibility, attempting to fundraise and gather resources.

Meanwhile, others feel that Washington taxpayers will carry the burden of these children unfairly. When this idea was first made public in June, KIRO Radio's Dori Monson voiced his concern, saying Washington taxpayers might end up responsible for schooling and other needs of these children.

"How about, you stop making Washington state, King County, Seattle a magnet for illegals coming into this country?" said Monson. "This is a crisis. We are in a crisis and our region could be hit hard. Other than the border states, the place that's going to be hit the very hardest by this crisis are taxpayers here in Washington."

As this issue has been coming to a head, more and more people have been voicing their opinions. Here are the takes from KIRO Radio hosts.

Ron Upshaw:

Maybe call me a flaming liberal. I think about this from the point of view of a child. I don't think of it in terms of an adult American who has some political ax to grind. But I think about it in terms of what it would be like to be a kid under the age of 10 making your way from Central America to the Mexican border, then you're put on a bus or a plane or whatever and you're flown to Washington state. That is beyond terrifying.

I remember after the earthquake, we went to Haiti, and I remember loading children onto this C-130. They cleared out the entire cargo area of the plane. They didn't even have seats in there. We put cargo straps across the floor and people would sit down and just hang onto a cargo strap. We were getting as many people onto that plane as we could. Many of them were elderly and many of them were kids whose parents had died in the earthquake.

When we were loading all these people onto the plane, the thing that doesn't cross your mind is ‘I wonder if all these people are documented?' The thing that doesn't cross your mind is ‘I wonder if one of these people is going to take an American job.'

The thing that crosses your mind when you're actually looking someone in the eye that is trying to escape an incredible tragedy is ‘America is the greatest country on Earth. Welcome to our country.'

Don O'Neill:

I'm happy to see that a lot of faith-based organizations are getting involved and saying how can we be involved in this process, because if kids do arrive here, you know what they need? They need a teddy bear. They need a bike. They need a hug. They need something to eat. They need to know they're loved and cared about.

I watched 40 little kids and women get sent back from the border on a plane. When they got off the plane, you could see these little kids with everything they'd been through, you could tell that they were scared to death, scarred for life, and that these kids will never be the same.

I'll tell you what, if you believe in Christian principles, which most Americans say they do and you get to the pearly gates and God asks you: ‘Why didn't you help that kid from Honduras or Guatamala?' And you say: ‘Because they weren't Americans.' God doesn't care about that. They are all God's children.

If those kids show up, I'm going to go down there and volunteer my time and I'm going to invite some of you. You should do the same.

Listen to Ron & Don's full discussion

John Curley:

John Lewis, the great civil rights Democrat leader, he said about these kids being held: "We are all connected. We can't just build a wall or a fence and say no more," Lewis said. "This is America. Our doors are open."

That is a wonderful sentiment. But I would ask Mr. Lewis: Do you have a house? Do you have a door? Why do you have doors in your home? Is it to keep people out? So you have doors at your house, but you don't want this nation to have borders, you don't want them to have doors. You want everybody in? Why not let everybody into your house? It's the same idea.

Listen to Tom & Curley's full discussion

Luke Burbank (guest host for The Jason Rantz Show):

I'm glad to see that at least there is somebody who is up for welcoming them. When you realize that these are in fact children - they're not illegals, they're not a walking crime, they're children.

One of the things that is sort of mind blowing to even consider is that when someone is being deported by the United States, which all of these kids stand to be deported if they don't have the proper paperwork, when someone is being deported, the United States doesn't provide them with a defense attorney, it's not like a criminal case.

So all over the Southwest you have this scene that's been playing out lately a lot, which is the United States prosecutor standing in a court room talking to a judge and in a chair a few feet away, there is child with no lawyer, who is just sitting there. I was listening to a radio report that said one of these defendants, their feet didn't touch the ground from the chair they were sitting in.

These are the people that we should be doing whatever we can to help, to feed, to clothe, to take care of. I genuinely don't understand how it would be the worst thing if these kids were allowed to become U.S. citizens. Maybe the argument from some is more and more will come. I don't know if anybody's looked at the plaque that's on the base of the statue of liberty, but it doesn't say 'Get out of here illegals.'

Listen to the full conversation on The Jason Rantz Show

Jamie Skorheim, MyNorthwest.com Editor
Whether it's floating on Green Lake, eating shrimp tacos at Agua Verde, or taking weekend drives out to the Cascades, she loves to enjoy the Pacific Northwest lifestyle as much as humanly possible.
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