(Eduardo Verdugo, Associated Press)
In this July 10, 2014, photo, children watch television at the "Todo por Ellos" shelter for migrant children in Tapachula, Mexico. Once detained the border the U.S. generally releases unaccompanied children to parents or relatives while their cases take years to wend through overwhelmed immigration courts. That reality gave rise to rumors of a new law or amnesty for children.

The truly sad but predictable tragedy of 60,000 unaccompanied children detained on our southern border, with another 90,000 predicted this year, should be constantly in the news headlines. Unfortunately, unaccompanied children crossing our borders is nothing new, only the degree to which it is happening. Why wasn't their concern before?

One of the most basic laws of human nature is that you get more of the behavior that you reward. Our community understands this principle when dealing with terrorists. It overwhelming believes that we shouldn’t negotiate with them because it encourages more violence and puts additional innocent victims at risk. Of course, most illegal aliens aren’t terrorists, but the principle of reward is the same. As clearly demonstrated recently, this puts others, especially children, at risk when we reward such behavior.

Unfortunately, our desire to appear compassionate has increased behaviors that actually cause more pain and suffering. Good intentions are not enough. Sound policy that leads to decreased misery is what’s important. Leaders being concerned with 60,000 unaccompanied children crossing our borders is not new; only the total is new. Why wasn’t there concern before? Toleration of illegal immigration has always encouraged illegal crossings.

It’s frustrating to see the lack of consistency by humanitarian groups in Utah. Many discourage Utahns from giving to panhandlers because it encourages more of it and is dangerous to those participating. But this is not even on the same level as immigration. In reality, which is more dangerous: standing by the side of a road with children or giving young children to ruthless traffickers for a 1,500-mile journey? Utah learned about rewarding illegal immigration when the Legislature passed HB116 in 2011. As warned, illegal immigration only increased.

Until recently, many Utah leaders were touting the Utah Compact. The principles sound good, but it’s been used to promote amnesty and has exacerbated the problem. Will these leaders now take responsibility for the consequences of pushing amnesty and years of toleration for illegal immigration?

We need to send reporters to the border. There, they can report about how life-savings are wasted when drug cartels tip off the border patrol about illegal alien crossings so to divert attention away from drug cargo.

Balance the stories of illegal aliens being deported with those about legal immigrants’ difficulties as they try to reunite their families in the United States. Report on the consequences for Utah residents: Utah County lost another citizen this past year to an illegal alien drunk driver. Broadcast journalists airing stories on the heroin epidemic in Utah County should mention the role played by illegal immigration. Cover how Utah’s leaders’ actions only propagate more illegal immigration.

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But instead of this coverage, what often happens is those who express concerns about illegal immigration are often called uncompassionate and un-Christian. True compassion, however, recognizes the importance of responsibility and occasionally giving “tough love.” Unfortunately, our nation refuses to make the difficult choices and our children will bear the consequences.

Utah leaders have said that it is unrealistic to think that you can do anything about those already here. Recent events show it’s unrealistic to think that amnesty will stop the problem. Imagine what will happen when such policies are actually passed.

I hope many re-evaluate the name-calling and finally recognize that tolerating illegal immigration is not compassionate and amnesty will not solve the problem.

Christopher N. Herrod is a real estate developer and former member of the Utah House of Representatives from Provo.