Let's be blunt about it. Hundreds of thousands of human beings are crossing our borders every month. It doesn't matter if they're legal or not, Hispanic or not, families or individuals. They're coming. No law, fence or political tirade is going to stem the flow. It is a problem of Gordian proportions and only a Solomon-like solution will bring about a resolution.
Why are they coming? Immigration floods are cyclical and not new. Like the Puritans, Irish and Eastern Europeans before them, they come because the United States offers a better future than the chaos and repression that they flee. The Puritans fled religious persecution, only to set up a virtual theocracy of their own. The Irish fled a devastating famine and political repression, only to be met with cultural repression that lasted a generation. The Eastern Europeans fled crushing poverty, war and religious persecution, as well. On their arrival, they found themselves encouraged to homestead the opening ranges of our Midwest and the Great Plains. “Go west”, the editorial cry of arch-conservative journalist Horace Greeley in 1871 was a push to move immigrants away from the East Coast.
Loosely paraphrasing George Santayana, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Okay, An immigrant flood is back!. Why this time? I perceive a number of reasons. First, there are too many people in the Central American countries for their own economy, political organization and infrastructure to support. To a degree, our own political meddling in the last century shares some responsibility here. Our government still supports, directly or by neglect, autocratic governments that profit from, and not for, their citizens. The Church bears a share of responsibility for their stand on birth control. Large corporations take profits, plundering their natural resources and giving back nothing. These facts notwithstanding, there remain too many people suffering poverty and oppression. They seek a future better than their present.
Our ability to deal with this influx is hampered by the characters who are charged with finding any workable solution. Who are they?
The Chicken Littles who run around screaming at the top of their lungs, or social media, that the sky is falling! Regrettably, although the Chicken Littles have been around for more than one administration, the current administration is raising the cry to epic, destructive and deeply partisan levels.
The Little Dutch Boys who would stick a finger in one leak after another with no concern for the growing tide beating on the dike, or for any determination of the root cause of so many leaky dikes; only for the personal drumbeat of their momentary success.
The Ostriches who with their heads in the sand refuse to recognize that there is any flood of immigrants at all. These are the most pernicious. They just don't want to know.
Over our history these characters have inbred and cross-bred until we have an entire generation of NIMBYs; Not In My BackYard! Oh, there is a problem, alright. But it's not my problem. And, I don't want to pay for it and I don't want them sent to my state. Just build a wall, put them in camps or send them home. Don't bother me with the details or pictures of real people in crisis. Make it go away. I don't want to know.
So, to each voice crying in distress at the photos of a desperate mother who drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande or the children in crowded camps, I ask a simple question. How many may I send to your city to absorb, feed, house and treat? Oh, and since we're spreading the mass of them among the fifty states, don't expect Federal aid in absorbing, feeding housing or treating them. But do expect a bill for sending them to you.
To each politician who decries the immigrants at our border, what have you done to lessen the situation in their home country that drives them to leave everything behind and cross unfriendly lands to seek comfort in the shadow of Lady Liberty? You're not building a wall to keep them out. You're building a wall so you can ignore the problem.
The speech by Michael Douglas in the film The American President might just be the best description of our politicians today. “They have no interest in solving the problem. They're only interested in making you afraid of it and telling you who is to blame for it.”
My fellow citizens, this is no way to run a country born of and fed by the blood, sweat and tears of those fleeing oppression. Immigrants ARE the past, present and future of United States. That face has changed over 240 years. It will continue to change. That is the strength of our nation; not tanks on the national mall.
Deliver that message in the best way you can – at the ballot box.