If We Only Had An Immigration Policy

November 26, 2018

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.




Land of the Angry, Home of the Scared

November 5, 2018

President Obama’s comments to hecklers in Florida wondering why they were angry, especially since their party controlled the Congress and the Presidency and their president had followed through on many of his promises, got me thinking again about what we stand for as a country. My concern about our values and beliefs brought on further concerns when Trump supporters bought into his lies about rising crime ( it is not rising), the caravans invading our country ( a rag tag group of asylum seekers, many of them women and children, is not an invasion) and the threat of minorities to a white America ( if there is any threat it is from white neo-Nazis). So why are we no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave, but rather the land of the angry and the home of the scared?

The answer to this question likely is better answered by trained psychologists, but it does make a political observer wonder why the right wing is not filled with supreme joy and at the very least taking a brief moment to use Google to inquiry about the President’s misinformation campaign. It would seem to me that the anger is the result of pent up frustration over years of living at the margins in a country where elites didn’t care, while the embrace of outright lies spoken by a man who knows how to gin up a crowd just makes those on the margins feel better. Say what you want about the President, he knows how to push the right buttons in his base and has no remorse over stoking white race anger and just saying anything that comes into his mind at what has become an old-fashioned religious rally. If you have ever seen the ancient movie, Elmer Gantry, with Burt Lancaster, it perfectly depicts the charismatic ability of one man, a religious charlatan,  to get his followers to follow him anywhere, no matter how cruel or off the wall his sermons are.

It would be reassuring if we indeed were the home of the free and the land of the brave as our national anthem proudly proclaims, but our freedoms are slowly being eroded (especially freedom of the press) and we seem to willing admit that we are afraid (but mostly afraid that minorities will replace white power). We live in a time when according to that great political philosopher Groucho Marx, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” Perhaps saner leaders in both parties, truth-seeking pundits of both political persuasions, and that great moderate middle of America will bring us back to the era of compromise, consensus, and conflict resolution. Katherine Bates, who wrote “America the Beautiful” said it best, ” America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.” One can only hope.




The Caravan

October 25, 2018

As the 7000 migrants from Honduras and elsewhere in Central America move northward through Mexico I wonder aloud whether the failure of the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto to mount a push back of the caravan may just be a gesture of resistance to being bullied into submission by President Trump over a rewriting of the NAFTA agreement (now called the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement). Although the migrants forced their way across the Guatemala- Mexico border, it is hard to believe that the military and local police could not have used their considerable numbers and crowd control training to turn them around, or at least halt their progress. Failing that there have been plenty of opportunities to turn the column back as it moved its way through Chiapas province.

The Mexican government is likely stepping aside and laying the burden of the migrant caravan square on President Trump and his administration, after all the caravan is headed to Brownsville, Texas and has little interest in settling in Mexico, which in many respects is just as violent as the homeland they are leaving. President Trump has already threatened to cut off aid to Honduras for allowing the caravan to form and move northward, but it would be difficult to punish a newly minted trade partner like Mexico.

Perhaps there are behind the scenes talks between Washington and Mexico over a resolution of this human crisis, especially since a new government will take power in early December. But if the government of President Nieto is purposely sitting on the sidelines and quietly enjoying the immigration crisis facing President Trump, then the United States government will be forced to deal with the sad optics of  desperate families facing the US Army in the coming months.

Since these migrants really have nothing to lose by moving north and Mexico has become a partner in their trek, the Trump administration is in a potential public relations bind. Our soldiers could push them back as they move into Texas, they could use tear gas or other non-lethal methods of crowd control, or they could lock 7,000 people up in detention centers, which in some respects would give the migrants a temporary home as the matter of refugee status and asylum works its way through the courts. Trump will, of course, look and talk tough but any form of force against women and children, families, and the elderly would be splashed across the television screens and presented as a human disaster. Sure Trump’s base would cheer wildly about getting tough on the migrants, but there is still a large segment of the population in this country that were outraged with the previous separation policy of the government and the courts can be counted on to use their power to put at least a temporary check on this latest immigration crisis.

There is still time to work out a solution to the caravan of migrants marching northward and it lies with the Mexican government, whether currently in power or about to assume power. But Mexico does have a certain amount of leverage in this crisis and it can be counted on to extract something from the Trump administration for its cooperation. before soldiers and families face off in Brownsville, Texas.