The sight of thousands of children streaming over the borders of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, keeps the Washington non-debate over immigration reform front and center. The pictures of the refugees from Guatemala and Honduras are of frightened children sometimes accompanied by weary women presumed to be their mothers “hoping” to be taken in by the Americans in a country made of immigrants.
It is easy to ignore the fact that Emma Lazarus’ words at the base of the French made Statue of Liberty has no more basis in Constitutional Law than the phrase “In God We Trust” on the American dollar bill. But it is those words on Ellis Island that haunt every American who dares to say “send them back.”
Yes, we do have an immigration procedure that gives a “pathway to citizenship.” This procedure has been in place for decades. And although slow, it takes at least 5 years with classes and money and no arrests, to gain that precious title of “citizen” which grants one the basic right to …vote.
Missing from the network and, surprisingly, cable TV newscasts, are any pictures or in depth pieces on the life experiences that are driving these women and children to America. Yes, you can pack them on an airliner and send them back. Yes, they are here illegally and should face the required process. But what do we do in the meantime. Who cares for them while they are processed and shipped back or to cities across the U. S.
Joe Klein’s piece in the July 28th edition of Time is the best path for President Obama to take in reaching a solution to this “problem.” The one exception to Klein’s recommendation would be the need for the President to visit the border refugees as a show of empathy with their plight. These are not his constituents and a visit will not help them. Actions will.
President Obama does not need to send troops to the border. We already have troops there in the form of a well paid and well staffed Border Patrol. If we send “troops’ we have to pay for “troops” and that means more guns and rifles and the chance increases for more violence. And then there is the question of who pays. These troops, who would be National Guard supposedly, are normally paid for by the State they reside in. Is the Federal Government then expected to “pay” for them? Who approves this payment, the Congress? The State Governments? No, it will be left for the President to decide, and consequentially, take the blame for action or, in this case, inaction.