March 7, 2023

Our Dickensian Border Policy

The insanity at the border will continue, and we can be assured that it’s not going to produce any great literature.

“I became, at ten years old, a little labouring hind in the service of Murdstone and Grinby.”

Thus relates David Copperfield in the Charles Dickens novel of the same name.

Of course, Dickens was a crusader against the exploitation of children. The edge is taken off the depictions of the heartless treatment of children in his fiction, though, by the funny and memorable portrayals of the malefactors, the upward trajectory of the lives of the likes of David Copperfield and Oliver Twist, and the knowledge that the practices that Dickens inveighed against are a thing of the past in the advanced world.

It takes a heart of stone not to smile at the name of David’s cruel stepfather, Edward Murdstone (Mr. Murdstone, to you), or the wine-bottling factory where David unhappily works, Murdstone and Grinby.

The orphan Oliver Twist had a bad time of it in a workhouse in the town of Mudfug. Yet, at least Oliver avoids the dangerous fate of getting apprenticed to the chimney sweep, Mr. Gamfield, and eventually an unexpected inheritance and a happy adoption await him.

This is all relevant today, because, as a big New York Times report highlighted, we have a Dickensian border policy.

The Times details how so-called unaccompanied minors end up “in some of the most punishing jobs in the country.” The Times found: “Twelve-year-old roofers in Florida and Tennessee. Underage slaughterhouse workers in Delaware, Mississippi and North Carolina. Children sawing planks of wood on overnight shifts in South Dakota.”

Needless to say, J. Crew and Walmart aren’t as charming as Murdstone and Grinby, and favorable plot twists are unlikely to be written into the stories of many of the kids caught up in this child-labor maw. Most important, this isn’t happening more than 150 years ago in another country.

The upshot of The Times piece is that we have chosen to import a social problem — as if we didn’t have enough already.

The Times reports that the child-labor force has “exploded” since 2021, which, of course, coincides with the advent of Biden’s lax border policies. A quarter of a million children have entered the United States over the past two years.

For no good reason, we’ve made it difficult for ourselves to quickly send home minors coming on their own from noncontiguous countries, and thus we’ve enabled a market in child smuggling and child labor.

As The Times puts it: “These are not children who have stolen into the country undetected.” Caseworkers interviewed by the Times estimate that two-thirds of all unaccompanied minors end up working full-time.

This is bad for the kids, corrupting to the companies that exploit them, and unhealthy for our society generally.

The Department of Health and Human Services is in charge of sheltering the minors when they arrive, and then monitoring them upon release. It is not doing a good job, but the king’s cure would be to have better enforcement at the border and in the interior. That way, children wouldn’t be sent alone across the border in the first place, on an arduous journey with perhaps a dangerous factory job in the offing at their ultimate destination. But no one in charge ever seems to think of that.

There are a few other things to be said about all this.

One, it’s worth remembering that migrants are supposed to be asylum seekers, fleeing persecution in their home countries; but almost every time the press reports in any detail on the stories of individual migrants, they prove to be economic migrants.

Two, it’s hard to believe that the availability of cheap, easily exploited illegal child labor doesn’t exert downward pressure on low-skilled wages.

Three, not to sound like a child-welfare nativist, but there are plenty of children already in the United States who desperately need the attention of caseworkers.

Despite The Times story, the insanity at the border will continue, and we can be assured that it’s not going to produce any great literature.

© 2023 by King Features Syndicate

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service, are proud sponsors of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Folds of Honor, Honoring the Sacrifice, Warrior Freedom Service Dogs, Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, the Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation.


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Join us in prayer for our nation, that good and righteous national leaders would rise and prevail, and that division would be healed so we would be united as Americans. We pray also for the protection of our military Patriots, first responders and their families, and comfort for veterans who are suffering.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2023 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.