By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor

What is it about our country that immigrants – legal and illegal - want to pack their bags and hightail it here?  It’s pretty much been that way since our founding.  The United States has always been the destination of choice for immigrants, kind of like stopping for lunch at In-and-Out Burger on the way to Pismo Beach. For immigrants, America has always had the best burgers.

If you live in a country where the burgers come with a side dish of drug cartels and violence, then you just might want to go somewhere where your burgers don’t have any strings attached. Central America is the world’s leading region in homicides. In particular, Honduras has 90.4 murders per 100,000 persons to lead the world. Contrast that to the United States 4.7 murders per 100,000. The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, in addition to compiling murder rates, blames gang violence and the influx of drug cartels for the loathsome rates.

Welcome to Honduras.

Since October, approximately 52,000 children, most of them from Central America, and many unaccompanied by adults – have been detained at the border. That’s nearly double last year’s total and 10 times the number from 2009.

What’s at the crux of this sudden immigration explosion? The reasons are many – depending on who you listen to. FOX News cites a study compiled by the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) citing misperceptions about U.S. immigration policy that’s causing thousands of Central American youngsters to flee their homes. The report disputes the notion that Central American violence is the cause behind thousands of kids risking their young lives to they flee to the United States. The EPIC study basically blames President Obama – surprise - for misleading immigrants about their chances of remaining in the U.S.

Leave it to FOX News to find an obscure study to promote its true feelings.

On the other hand, a study by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees found that 58 percent of the unaccompanied children are motivated by safety concerns fearing life back home where rampant gang violence, fueled by the drug trade, are running rampant – a decidedly different perspective and one that comes with a healthy dose of credibility.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, these children come from regions where they think the risk of migrating to the U.S. is safer than remaining at home. Certainly, there are refugees who make that perilous trek from Central American to the United States border because they were led to believe they might be able to stay.

While in our more than two centuries of extending invitations to immigrants, Americans haven’t always been welcoming. We invited the Chinese in the 19th Century, but that was just to help us build a railroad, and as a nation we didn’t particularly treat them well. While we welcome Mexicans to pick our crops and do many of the jobs Americans don’t want to do, we bemoan the fact that the border between our countries isn’t more secure. Even the Irish were discriminated against as they escaped poverty in Europe.

Recently, in the California community of Murrieta, residents there protested the arrival of busloads of immigrant children into their community. The immigrants, mostly families and unaccompanied children from Central America, were being taken to facilities in San Diego and El Centro to help alleviate detention facilities in Texas.

On July 1, Murrieta residents protested the arrival of three busloads of immigrants from Texas, scheduled to be processes in Murrieta. It was ugly as video news crews captured the anger of Murrieta’s citizens to the influx of immigrants.

Communities have spoken up. League City, Texas passed a resolution banning the use of their town for processing and housing undocumented children.

Even one of our councilmembers seems caught the fever, suggesting that the City of Lemoore may want to take a similar route.

“I don’t think we need that type of headache, that type of problem in our city,” said Councilmember Willard Rodarmel during a recent council meeting. Citing an article he read in The Drudge Report, he said:  “I don’t think we need that, especially with some of the diseases they’re saying are coming in,” he continued. “We don’t need those problems here.”

He insisted that Lemoore doesn’t have the facilities anyway to house undocumented children.

The underlying question is are these children and their families refugees or are they simply taking advantage of a vague set of regulations, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008, entitled the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which easily passed the House and Senate with little if any objections?

The act was mainly intended to help human trafficking victims, but one aspect of the law had provisions for unaccompanied illegal immigrants under age 18. Once minors are in the U.S. they must be taken care of while deportation hearings are under way. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department is to provide for their custody and care while they are here and is charged with finding a parent or a sponsor in the United States.

The law is not enforceable for countries directly bordering the United States.

There was nary a peep from Members of Congress in 2008 when they passed the law, particularly Republicans, who seem to have conveniently forgotten their support for the law, but now blame President Obama for the sudden influx of refugees. Why not, Republicans blame him for everything else, from Iraq to Denver’s Super Bowl loss to Seattle.

So what happens now?

In a nation built on the backs of immigrants, it seems cowardly to deny sanctuary for children who simply desire a better life, a future devoid of drug cartels, murder, and poverty. Passing meaningless resolutions prohibiting undocumented kids from residing in one’s community is not the answer, nor is it the right thing to do. In fact, it’s embarrassing.

Obey the law as it’s written and treat these families and kids as refugees who are simply escaping a den of unspeakable violence and a country where success is a false hope. To send them back invites retribution from the gangs and cartels, and that would be unpardonable.