All the folks using immigrant children as pawns in their political bickering leave me shaking my head in wonder, and more than a little sad at how low some people can sink.

The political firestorm over immigrant children streaming into the U.S. illegally has made headlines across the U.S. Here in Carroll, our board of commissioners and some state and federal lawmakers jumped on their political soapboxes after word came that the former Army Reserve Center was being considered as a place to house some of the children until they could be processed. The shock at that display, and the outpouring of support from across the county was reassuring, even as the government said the site would not be used for that purpose.


And while some vandal or vandals painted anti-immigrant graffiti on the side of the center, we've largely escaped some of the more nasty responses that have bubbled up elsewhere in the nation.

Perhaps the worst was last week when a protesting congressional candidate in Arizona ended up with egg on his face after mistaking a busload of YMCA campers for undocumented immigrant children.

The Arizona Republic reported that Republican Adam Kwasman was at a protest that was awaiting a busload of children that were due to arrive for processing.

According to a video on the Arizona Republic website, Kwasman said "I was able to actually to see some of the children in the buses. And the fear on their faces ... This is not compassion."

Of course there was fear on their faces. They looked out and saw an angry mob, probably shouting, shaking their fists and hurling insults at them.

From Kwasman's comments, it appears he was hoping to exploit the immigrant children's fears as a way to show how badly the Obama administration is handling the situation. Instead, he and the other protestors got a first-hand lesson in the impact their behavior and actions had on a bunch of camp kids.

Make no mistake. The troubles at the border have not been handled well. And wherever you stand on the issue, you should be able to express your opinions and have your voice heard. But it is despicable for adults to use children in their political battles. It doesn't matter if it is dressing your kid up in an anti-gun t-shirt for your protest against gun violence or if you give them a sign to wave at a soldier's funeral that reads "God hates fags," as has happened with one anti-government group. Kids are not pawns to be used to further your agenda.

I would bet that if the bus had been the one carrying the immigrant children, the protestors would have drowned each other out shouting about how terrible it was that these children were being bused around like that. Kwasman's comments as reported by the Arizona Republic would seem to back that up. Kwasman changed his tune when it was pointed out the children were campers. Hopefully he and the other protestors were able to see how their behavior impacted the children on that bus, and perhaps they will think twice about traumatizing kids for their own personal political gain in the future.

To put it in a different perspective, if you were at a public park playing with your kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews and a group of yelling, sign-waving protestors (pick your favorite cause) arrived and began making a ruckus, would you stay or would you take the kids and high-tail it out of there?

Politics will always be a messy business, and there will always be hot-button issues that prompt people to mobilize in an effort to have their voice heard. Kids are only kids for so long. Most of their lives will be spent in adulthood, and they will have plenty of opportunity to take sides on a wide range of issues.

Don't take their childhood away from them. Don't use them as pawns to further your political agenda. Let them grow up first. Then they can decide for themselves where they stand on issues, or whether they even want to take a stand at all.

Jim Lee is the Carroll County Times' Editor. Email him at