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Robert Reich: Border crisis debate ‘between the haters and the big-hearted'

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich believes the debate over what to do with the thousands of unaccompanied minors that have already illeagally crossed the border is "between the haters and the big-hearted."
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich believes the debate over what to do with the thousands of unaccompanied minors that have already illeagally crossed the border is "between the haters and the big-hearted."
Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

While sharing his views on the crisis on the Southern border on his Facebook page on Sunday, former Clinton administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich framed the heated debate on how to deal with those unaccompanied minors already here as one between “the haters and the big-hearted.”

Despite a flood of almost 60,000 unaccompanied minors (UM’s) illegally crossing the Southern border since October, little has been done to secure the border and many are asking why such a slow response to a crisis that the Obama administration knew was developing at least as early as February of this year, according to a Health and Human Services request for funding in that month that identified the increase in the number of UM’s as the reason the funding was needed.

As the flood of humanity across the border continues, Republicans argue that security is the primary issue while Democrats insist that comprehensive reform must be done with security as part of the package, not a top priority. This has been the debate that has resulted in nothing being done to address the border issues our nation has faced for years, and the current crisis seems to be doing little to soften either position.

While the causes for the dramatic increase in the numbers of UM’s continues to be debated, there has been little movement toward slowing down the influx-the opposite is actually the case.

Each month has seen an increase over the previous month with this year projected to reach 100,000, followed by 140,000 next year. Keep in mind that number only includes UM’s, there are hundreds of thousands of others that are taken into custody by border agents that don’t fall into that classification.

The immigration debate is driven by two world views that are so very different it seems unlikely any positive movement will take place in the area of immigration reform without one-party control of the federal government.

The GOP favor a security first approach that stems from a strong belief in the right of nations to protect their sovereignty and places that as the top priority; the “comprehensive reform” approach favored by Democrats places emphasis on more relaxed immigration laws and a “path to citizenship” for many of those already here illegally with border security farther down on the priorities list.

The response to the current crisis suggests that neither side is willing to work for a compromise, and actually indicates that the gap between the sides is growing wider. While Republicans push for immediate security steps to be taken, like deploying the National Guard, Democrats continue to redirect the focus to the plight of the children as they portray Republicans as uncaring, racist people that are motivated by bigotry and hatred.

This view is clearly stated by Reich, who also said:

“The haters direct their venom not just at child refugees seeking asylum from the drug war we created, but also at gays who want to marry, African-Americans who want to vote and exercise their other rights of citizenship, women who seek abortions, or even women in general, Latinos who want their children to be taught in Spanish, immigrants in general, Muslims, Jews, government “bureaucrats,” the poor and needy, anyone who dares suggest a required background check before buying guns, people they call “liberals” or “socialists” or “communists,” even the President of the United States.”

While his view would seem to be a moral judgment rather than policy debate, Reich is voicing a position on immigration that a growing number of Democrats openly support known as Open Borders, a philosophy that supports the free movement of people between different jurisdictions with limited or no restrictions to movement. The European Union is an example of open international borders with very limited travel restrictions.

Minority Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi voiced this belief last week when she stated that "We are all Americans -- north and south in this hemisphere."

With many leaders of the Democratic Party openly supporting open borders, and many more doing so less vocally, is there any reason to believe any compromise can be reached with Republican’s that are holding firm on their security first position?

As the debate continues among politicians with little being done to either slow the rate or better prepare for additional arrivals, how long can the social service system bear the additional stress before grinding to a halt?

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Related: Cities receiving unaccompanied minors from border