There has been a significant decline in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. Southern border illegally in the past nine months, and that's good news. The number -- 17,439 from Oct. 1 through July 30 -- is still very high by historical standards.
One thing that has changed is better border security by Mexican authorities. Word also seems to have spread in Central America that many kids are no longer getting through to the United States.
Last summer, according to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, more than 53,000 children from Central America came to the United States in a 12-month period. Most were from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and were fleeing violent drug gangs and extreme poverty at home. The inflow was heartbreaking and frightening, as people felt for the children but feared that local American schools would be disrupted and even bankrupted by a huge influx of expensive-to-educate children being resettled with extended family members.CartoonDavies' latest cartoon: Trump inaugural ballCommentSubmit your letterReader essaysGet published in Newsday
This was a real problem in some heavily Hispanic Long Island school districts like Hempstead, Freeport and Central Islip, where both finances and educational achievement were already challenging. It's good that this chaotic mass migration has slowed. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to reflect an improving climate in the home countries, which must be truly unspeakable to prompt parents to send their children on such treacherous journeys. We are seeing a similar type of frantic immigration in Europe of late, as refugees from Middle Eastern violence seek safety. In the long run, if we are to have an orderly and prosperous hemisphere, our neighbor nations must reach bare minimums of peace and prosperity, too. Helping them achieve that must be one answer to how we bring illegal immigration under control.