Name-Calling Won’t Fix Immigration; Does Anybody Even Want To?

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There are thousands of immigrants approaching our border; some arriving from inhumane conditions elsewhere. Who should be let in? Who turned away? What is the fairest, most prudent process? Complex questions, all.

Clarity, common sense, and compassion are needed from our leaders.

What we get is posturing.

When a needed, emergency humanitarian aid package was passed last month by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, by a vote of 84-8, the Democrat-controlled House approved it – but with 102 representatives voting against it; apparently with a my-way-or-the-highway attitude when it comes to helping.

Why vote for real humanitarian aid when you can arrange a picture of yourself crying at the border, a demonstration of real compassion?

This past week, the U.S. House was busy passing a resolution of condemnation of a foolish tweet from President Donald Trump, which led to bickering about Trump’s supposedly racist remarks. Are only his words considered racist, or the man himself?

The next day, the House voted on an impeachment resolution because of Trump’s “manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

The impeachment resolution was killed but, still, 95 House members voted for it. Why? Is there provable “manifest injury”?

Do our leaders have anything better to do … like work on pressing issues … maybe a sensible immigration reform?

At issue here is Trump. He can be a person easy to dislike. My opinion of the man was never high but, as stated in an earlier column, he became president because the other candidate was unlikeable, aloof, and uninspiring.

What vision do the Democrats offer, except “we don’t like Trump”? That is evident in their reactions to Trump’s immigration policies – even though Trump’s core statements on illegal immigration are similar to his predecessors, including Democrats.

Bill Clinton:

All Americans, not only in the states most heavily affected but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. … The public service they use impose burdens on our taxpayers.

That’s why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens.

… we will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace …

We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it.

(State of the Union, 1995:  Read it here; watch it here.)

Barack Obama:

Real reform means strong border security …

Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship — a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.

And, real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy.

(State Of The Union, 2013:  Read it here; watch it here.)

Obama, in an ABC interview, said …”our direct message to the families in Central America … Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back.”

And another time, Obama explained the “narrow” conditions for those seeking asylum, ruling out poverty and crime-ridden area as reasons.

These words, if coming out of Trump’s speech, would have been labeled cruel or bigoted. Democratic hopefuls for president avoid any talk of limiting immigration. In their first debates they called for something similar to open borders (without actually saying it).

Congressional Democrats offer little but criticism. As U.S. Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said in a television interview: 

“Notice that they never come up with a solution. They talk about over-crowded facilities. They never had a solution for our immigration system.”

Trump does not help his cause with his rhetoric. In his tweet, he chides “Progressive Democrat Congresswomen … Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came?” It was a dumb thing to write; an ignorant way of saying “America, Love it or Leave it.”

Then the congresswomen – three of whom were born in the United States – staged their retaliatory press conference, with Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Dorchester) saying she won’t call Trump the President, but only “the occupant of our White House.”

Boy, she sure told him!

Meanwhile, the country awaits any real action – say, meaningful immigration reform – from its leaders.


Kevin Thomas is a writer and teacher, living with his wife and children in Standish, Maine.