Sydney M. Williams
Thought of the Day
June 20, 2018
“There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism…
the one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin,
of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all,
would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities.”
Speech at Knights of Columbus
October 12, 1915
No human with an ounce of compassion wants to see children separated from their parents. The bond, especially between a mother who bore and gave birth to a child, is unbreakable. Yet, plying heart strings will not resolve the problem we have with illegals (or smugglers claiming to be parents) who seek asylum, or have chosen to by-pass the legal immigration process and have crossed without papers into our country, by way of an unsecured border.
As everyone knows, border guards have only four choices when families are caught at the border, attempting to cross illegally, without proper authorization: Violators can be sent back into Mexico, which was one step the Obama Administration took. The entire family can be released into our country, pending a hearing to which they would voluntarily have to return, another choice the Obama Administration made. (Statistics suggest that 80% of those who disappear into the nether reaches of the country do not show up for scheduled hearings.)Three, the entire family (including the children)can be incarcerated, pending a hearing. And four, the parents can be incarcerated, pending a hearing, while the children are housed separately from their parents. The first choice commits the family to extreme hardship, as Mexico has no interest in taking them in. They must return, unescorted, to their country of origin. The second encourages the illegal entry into our country of not only asylum seekers but potential terrorists and those who choose not to play by the rules. The third would be cruelest to the children. The fourth, the option chosen by the Trump Administration(and distasteful to all, including Mr. Trump), highlights the need for comprehensive immigration reform – something both Parties in Congress, the author of our laws, has studiously avoided. Mr. Trump has been blamed, but the real culprit is Congress. Especially cynical are the misanthropists in the media and Washington who let crocodile tears detract from their failed policies
For decades, Congress has ignored gnawing problems like immigration, along with race and third-rail issues like Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. In part, that reluctance represents an unwillingness to put their name to a bill, a b ill which long term would be in the nation’s interest, but which might in the short term prove detrimental to re-election prospects. It is “kicking the pail down the road.” More cynically, some politicians prefer to keep a bill that might resolve issues like immigration and race from reaching the floor, because they have concluded that unresolved issues provide electioneering fodder.
Resolving the illegal immigration problem should not be that difficult. There are certain principles on which reasonable people should agree. Most everyone agrees that legal immigration should be encouraged, and illegal immigration should be discouraged. We may differ in terms of how many legal immigrants we prefer. As well, nobody wants completely open borders, the allowing into the country anyone who would like to come. We all agree there should be a process. There are issues, such as the welfare of Dreamers and the presence of undocumented residents, that need to be resolved. But compromise should be possible
Despite hyperbolic claims from partisans, we all dislike the separating of families. But the first step must be to stop the flow of illegals. There are those who would prefer for Mr. Trump to issue an Executive Order ceasing the practice of separating families, but what choice should he make? Should he release all families, thereby increasing the number of illegals? Should he send them back into Mexico, to an uncertain fate? Should he imprison the children with their parents or guardians? Or should Congress take up the issue and pass a comprehensive bill, a bill that may not satisfy every desire, but which could address border security along with the humanity needs of those who already here? And is not the passage of legislation the purview Congress? It is the executive’s job to carry out laws and the courts to pass on their Constitutionality.
Stopping the flow can only be done with secure borders, whether real or simulated. Since the U.S.-Mexican border is 1954 miles long, a wall or a fence covering its entire distance is impractical, but illegal border crossings tend to be concentrated and are generally known to ICE employees. Technology is such that unfenced portions of the border could be policed with cameras, Drones and other aircraft. That, in my opinion, should be done at once. A tidal flood of illegals would be reduced to a trickle.
As for the Dreamers, the issue is more complex. My preference would be to be tough in defending borders, rendering them less porous, but to be more lenient with those that are already here, despite that being unfair to those waiting in line. I can understand the reluctance to grant amnesty to those who entered the country illegally, no matter their age. But the alternative seems too draconian, and, in doing nothing, the problems simply worsens.
Keep in mind, immigration is not isolated from trade. Mexico looks upon the U.S. as a source of dollars repatriated from illegal residents in the U.S. back to families in Mexico. As well, Mexico sees an expanding Mexican demographic in the U.S. as one that helps, as Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote, to “recalibrate U.S. policy favorable to Mexico.” The Left has the abhorrent habit of comparing policies they don’t like to Nazi killing machines. Such comparisons were made about George W. Bush regarding Abu Ghraib prison and waterboarding. To suggest that today’s U.S. detention centers compare to 1940s Nazi concentration camps is despicable and trivializes the six million who died in such camps. The energy expended by the Left in such hateful inanities would better serve their cause – not to mention that of the American people – if it were aimed at achieving consensus on immigration reform. What is frustrating to most Americans is that this is a solvable problem. All it requires is for Congress to place the nation ahead of Party. Is that too much to ask of this great democratic republic?
The United States has long been the most compassionate of nations. Why do so many emigrants choose the U.S.? Why don’t we see them clamoring to go to Russia or China? Do you think most would prefer France to the United States? Emma Lazarus’ words resonate: “Give us your tired, your poor…”Such grace has served us well. Ms. Lazarus’ words were cast on a bronze plaque in 1903, during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt and reflected his empathy. But we must, as well, heed the warning President Roosevelt uttered a dozen years later, quoted in the rubric which heads this essay – a warning against the current preference for compartmentalizing people by race, religion and nationality for political purposes – identity politics – especially immigrants and minorities. The country needs and wants immigrants. They contribute to the vitality of our nation. They add to its diversity. Yet, we should want them to become Americans, to speak our language, to obey our laws, to adopt our culture (with the nuances they add), and to learn and appreciate the history of this increasingly ethnically-mixed nation – “this last best hope for mankind” – from its founding in the early 17thCentury to the country it has become in the 21st.