Work under way to determine the best ways that Maryland can help ease the crisis of unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America who have been coming into the U.S. is a positive step that focuses our energies where they should be: helping the children, as opposed to the political grandstanding and immigrant-bashing that we've seen in recent weeks.

Gov. Martin O'Malley on Monday met with about 50 faith leaders from across the state for a discussion about partnerships, and what Maryland can do to help. The border has seen in influx of about 57,000 unaccompanied children since October. It is estimated that the number could reach 90,000 by the end of September. Children are fleeing violence in Central American countries.

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Some people have seen the crisis as an opportunity for political grandstanding or to promote their anti-immigrant viewpoints. In Westminster, when the government said it was considering using a vacant government building to house some of the children, someone spray-painted anti-immigrant graffiti on the side of the building. But while reports of the incident that police are investigating as a hate crime went viral, putting Carroll County in a negative light across the nation, many others here and across the state have remained focused on the issue of helping the children. Monday's meeting was the first get-together aimed at finding the best ways that Maryland can offer assistance.

The Rev. Jacek Orzechowski of St. Camillus Catholic Church in Silver Spring summed it up well when he told The Baltimore Sun, "All of us have agreed this is a kind of moral test for our nation to show that we are a nation that is compassionate that is just."

People of all faiths, as well as community groups and various non-profits and civic organizations here and elsewhere routinely reach out and offer whatever assistance is necessary when needs arise. For them, this situation is no different.

"The issue is so large that no one organization alone can take care of that," William McCarthy, executive director of Catholic Charities, told the Associated Press. "It requires all of us together to have the collective impact to really address the situation."

Carroll residents have always worked in a collaborative way to assist in times of crisis. And our natural propensity for compassion is too strong, and too prevalent to be swayed by a few hate-mongers or political opportunists.

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