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Wall Casts Pall on Immigration Debate

We build too many walls and not enough bridges.
– Isaac Newton

“The Wall” is currently THE issue, since President Trump’s demand that taxpayers pay $5 billion for his border wall triggered the recent government shutdown and now his national-emergency declaration.

Walls have been tried throughout history. The Maginot Line was built by France in the 1930s to deter Nazi Germans from invading; they found weak spots in the line and invaded anyway. The term “Maginot Line” became a metaphor for expensive efforts offering a false sense of security. Sound familiar?

Trump’s campaign promise of a wall along the 1,900-mile Mexican border (including the whopper “Mexico will pay for it”) seemed a simple solution to a complex problem. While simple solutions are appealing, they often ineffectively address complex issues – like immigration.

Hard-liners on the right and left are passionate about it. To the right, immigrants are threatening and must be blocked at all costs. Conveniently forgetting that unless you are Native American, YOU are descended from immigrants. Everybody wants to close the gate behind THEM, as the saying goes.

Right-wingers argue immigrants take jobs from Americans. Conveniently forgetting many difficult jobs (landscapers, roofers, maids, dishwashers, meat processors, among others) would go unfilled without immigrants, since most Americans won’t take them. Many working immigrants then remain illegally, “in the shadows”, frequently paying no taxes, sometimes underpaid or unpaid, vulnerable to abuse by unscrupulous employers and criminals.

On the left, some push minimal immigration controls. Conveniently forgetting that while we want to help those in need, we simply CANNOT afford to take all refugees from all countries and extend benefits to them. Providing education, health care, housing, public safety, and other necessities to millions who haven’t helped pay for them would eventually bankrupt America, leaving our own citizens neglected.

Some push no enforcement of controls, like abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Conveniently forgetting that inadequately vetted or monitored immigrants could allow criminals and terrorists to enter and remain, increasing risks for all of us.

Other difficult issues include “Dreamers”: kids brought here illegally by parents, they grew up here and became contributing members of society. Should they be deported to parents’ home countries, where they have never lived?

What about those seeking asylum from violence, persecution, and other threats? Those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), seeking refuge from armed conflicts and natural disasters?

Our beloved Statue of Liberty welcomes them all with these words:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

Do we slam the door and confess we didn’t really mean that?

Many thorny issues, indeed, requiring leadership, cooperation, and courage. Will we see that from this President? From this Congress? So far, not so much.

Do “we the people” need to DEMAND they display those traits, for a change, and resolve these issues – once and for all? Or offer up our own workable solutions, since they apparently cannot?

We Modern Moderates should explore solutions together. Please join the discussion and stay tuned. That may be our only hope: solutions from the bottom up, not the top down.

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