In a normal governing climate when a problem of serious proportions arises governmental leaders often times rise to the occasion and take steps to correct the problem. Usually these governmental leaders come late to the problem, sometimes when the problem rises to a crisis stage, but they do eventually act to address the problem/ crisis. Sometimes the solution is piecemeal or slow to be implemented, other times the solution is fraught with unintended consequences. But the problem/crisis does foster a serious attempt to deal with the matter.
Not so with immigration. The last time this country dealt with immigration was back in the Reagan administration, but the solutions agreed upon then were not comprehensive in nature and did not create a rush of partisan division or anger. Today, of course, we live in a far different political and governing climate from the Reagan years as now issues of national security, walls, asylum, child separations, and caravans foster a toxic mix of fear, nationalism, and hatred; there is little interest in trying to find out what can be done to solve the problem and certainly not much in the way of human compassion.
If we had a government that works and if national political leaders could put down their partisanship even for a few months there is a way out of this mess, and that would be a public policy that dealt with how to handle the crush of illegal immigrants seeking to enter the United States, the status of those undocumented immigrants already in the country, the protocol for asylum seekers, temporary work permits, and a reasonable amnesty system especially for the children of illegals brought to this country when they were babies.
Believe it or not formulating such a policy is not rocket science since there have been many legislative initiatives put forward over the years by both Democrats and Republicans. If there was a will, a big IF, these initiatives could easily be dusted off and packaged into a comprehensive solution to our immigration mess – a rigorous pathway to citizenship for those here illegally, protections for young people brought here as babies, limited work permits with identification cards for those undocumented aliens seeking temporary employment, asylum opportunities for only the most deserving, fast track H1B cards for those immigrants with special skills, economic and political pressure on Central American countries to stem the tide of illegals heading north and of course a beefed up Border Patrol.
Serious public policies that address the key challenges of illegal immigration are far better than billions spent on a wall that only would show how incompetent and broken our government is. Sadly under the current administration there is little interest in public policies on immigration, only tough words and threats. As we have seen, tough words and threats haven’t stopped the caravan and future caravans from heading north. What would stem the tide of illegals is a comprehensive policy system that addresses all the failures that years of inaction have created.