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Immigration: Political High-Wire Act

Since the beginning of the Biden administration, thousands of Central and South American children have crowded America’s southern border, trying to cross it. President Biden and VP Harris have struggled to rebuild an immigration system mostly dismantled by the Trump administration, which shifted resources to the border wall. You remember, the one Trump “guaranteed” Mexico would pay for.

Biden’s temperate personality has earned him high poll numbers (especially compared to Trump’s, in both cases). But on immigration, Biden’s numbers have been under water.

Meanwhile, children keep coming.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently reported over 20,000 children in their care.

Many traveled here without their parents (who hoped, if unaccompanied, they would have better chances getting into America), overwhelming border facilities not designed to shelter children.

Parents can appreciate how gut-wrenching it would be to send children off on their own to an uncertain fate.

Parents can imagine how heartbreaking it would be to have your children taken from you at the border and forced into cages, then sent somewhere – without your knowing where. That was the Trump administration’s punishment for illegal immigrants crossing our border with children. Reportedly, some parents are still trying to find theirs.

So Biden’s administration has attempted a political high-wire act: maintaining border security while treating immigrant children humanely.

Some Republicans, exploiting the surge as an excuse to attack Biden, blamed it on his alleged proclamation that America’s borders are open.

The fact is, he proclaimed no such thing. In fact, as Forbes reported, “In reality, over 70% of people caught crossing into the United States last month — and almost 90% of single adults — were expelled to the other side of the border almost immediately after their arrests.”

Indeed, the surge had far different timing and origin. According to the New York Times, “the recent increase in migration had begun well before Biden took office, and the reasons behind it form a complex web that was a long time in the making… The main motivators of emigration from Mexico, Central America and points south are tied to climate change, violent crime and corruption.”

 

Climate change in the form of recent major hurricanes, destroying thousands of Central American homes and thousands of acres of farmland, depriving thousands of residents their only sources of food and income. The Times explained the hurricanes were “part of a greater trend fueled by climate change. They destroyed crops and homes, especially in Honduras, leaving an estimated nine million people displaced. Not coincidentally, Honduras and neighboring Guatemala have accounted for most of the migrants now trying to enter the United States.”

Violent crime and corruption in the form of drug wars, with cartels trafficking illegal drugs worldwide, earning enormous profits – which enable them to buy off politicians and law enforcement, avoiding prosecution. Cartels’ gangs viciously murder rivals and force children into their ranks. Parents are terrified their children will be killed in these wars, as active participants or innocent victims in the crossfire.

Facing the likelihood their children will starve or die violent deaths, hopeless parents send them, instead, on the perilous journey – praying they will find a safer life in America.

Recently, former President George W. Bush (R-TX) advocated immigration reform, saying we should “see immigration for what it is: not a problem and source of discord, but a great and defining asset of the United States”. Bush concluded “Congress isn’t doing its job” to resolve this issue.

Moderates DO NOT want illegal immigrants flooding into our country. Our compassionate side wants to save everybody in the world – but our realistic side knows we can’t. We already have plenty of Americans needing help. The richest country on earth, we can (and should) try to help refugees in other ways – but can’t afford to take them all in.

Moderates DO want border security, as Bush does. We cannot ignore the risks thousands of undocumented – and unvetted – immigrants would bring with them.

But Moderates DO NOT want our government enacting cruel, inhumane measures to punish migrants trying to resettle here – especially children.

This political high-wire act is treacherous, requiring a balance between two competing priorities (security and compassion). History reminds us it has a high probability of failure.

The true cause of this crisis: our outdated, ineffective immigration system. Almost everybody agrees it’s broken and needs repair – or replacement. Congress has failed miserably to address that.

In our next post, TMM will offer possible solutions to this seemingly intractable American challenge. Stay tuned.

 

Images: Google Images

Children at border wall: CNN

Trump at wall: PBS

Biden and Trump: WSJ

Immigrant refugee camp: Wall Street Journal

Children in cages: Twitter

Congressional Republicans: ABC News

Hurricane victim: ABC News

Mourners and coffin: The Conversation

Bush: USA Today

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