Wednesday, July 9, 2014
When in the Course of Human Events
America is not perfect. As a country, we have made our fair share of mistakes. Some of those mistakes were egregious, like slavery. Some of them were mistakes of necessity, like the Civil War. (Yes, I realize that many people would argue with me on the point of the Civil War. Just hear me out.) Whenever necessary, we seek to correct our most horrendous mistakes. However, America cannot correct her past mistakes, by throwing out the rule of law in the present or the future.
Recently, President Obama and other Administration Officials made it very clear that, since Congress was refusing to pass "Comprehensive Immigration Reform", the President himself would enact certain Executive Orders to accomplish that reform on his own. I do not wish to discuss the legality of the President essentially re-writing laws, or writing his own laws, or refusing to enforce already written laws. I am not a legal scholar. However, when the President made it clear that he wanted to allow certain immigrants, who came here outside of the rule of the law, to stay, he was sending a message. That message was heard loud and clear, and now we have a humanitarian crisis in one of the most prosperous countries in the world. The reason for the influx of unaccompanied minors has been debated loudly, but I don't think it takes a Rhodes Scholar to understand that when the President promised amnesty to certain subsets of our illegal immigration population, he invited what is currently happening. Get in quickly, and you won't have to leave. How many parents, for whatever reason, stuffed their kids in the back of a truck and shipped them off to the United States in the hopes that some type of better life might be in their future? As a parent, if I was living in a poor, crime-ridden place, and I saw any opportunity to get my child out, I might be tempted to try it. I can understand that. However, on the other side of that line, is the rule of law.
It was this same rule of law that kept Austrian, Polish and German Jews from being able to emigrate to the United States at a time when Hitler was calling for their broad extermination. At the time, popular support was not in favor of loosened immigration for Jews, and also, there was some thought, after our entrance into World War II, that the Germans would be able to turn these former German nationals into spies. (Someone could attempt to write a blog explaining why we thought people who were fleeing Germany to get away from Hitler would then want to turn spy for him.) The point is, the rule of law prevailed at a time when it's possible we should have been having a discussion about allowing more Jewish refugees into our country. It was either here or death, in many cases. And not just "possible death" because of crime or poverty or drug lords. It was death mandated by German law. By 1952, this country had allowed 137,450 Displaced Jews into the United States. Between 1936 and 1952, in case there was any confusion.
In 2013, we granted visas to 158,667 persons from North America. (For clarification, the INS does not have a Central American breakdown in their report. It's either North America or South America.)
In one year we let in more immigrants from poverty-stricken, crime ridden countries than we let in persecuted displaced Jews in 16 years. It doesn't erase the mistakes of the early 20th century, but it does show we have grown. At some point, we figured out that "to whom much is given much is required". We learned from our past mistakes, and we are not making that same mistake again. However, we let in 158,000+ last year, and now there are somewhere around 50,000 unaccompanied minors who did NOT go through the legal requirements, and we are being told that the compassionate thing to do is just let them in. Who takes care of them? Who pays for their food, clothing, education, and health care? Do we bring the parents here too? And then who takes care of the parents? These people have no jobs, no money, and no way to support themselves. Those are things you have to prove you can do before we give you a visa to come here. The law is, you can't be a drain on our system, which is already drained enough, considering we have somewhere around 10 million illegal immigrants in this country already that, in many cases, are collecting federal and state benefits. We have laws for a reason.
If we really feel it's compassionate to take in more people from these countries, then the proper way to do that, is to simply allow more people to obtain visas. We have the ability to do that. We, as a country, do not have the ability to federally support thousands upon thousands of people. We are struggling to pay our own bills and take care of our own citizens (and the already entrenched illegal population). We still have the lowest workforce participation rate since the Great Depression.
Our President needs to acknowledge that this is a problem, and it's more than likely his pronouncements from his telephone and pen allowed people to believe that if they could just get in, they'd be allowed to stay. These children need to be sent back to their parents, and their parents needs to be encouraged to follow the legal methods available for them to come here, and make an attempt to obtain the American Dream.
For those who think that I'm not compassionate, when you are willing to walk down to one of these holding facilities, pick a child, take them in, and take care of them as if they were your own, then you can play the compassion card. When you are willing to pay for legal advisers to go to those countries and help these people through the red tape that is immigration, then you can play the compassion card. Or you could simply volunteer to be a sponsor to an immigrant family. But posting facebook statuses about how it would be compassionate to foist more people on the American Taxpayer? Not compassionate. Put your money where your mouth is.
Until then, our President and the rest of our government needs to do what we put them there to do. Enforce the laws. We have laws for a reason, and as you all keep reminding me, it's the law, deal with it. (Of course, I'm being reminded of that in reference to Obamacare, but.... )
*For those of you still wondering why I called the Civil War a necessary mistake, well, that's another blog for another time. :)
**The above picture is a group of 100 Displace Jewish Children who were rescued from certain death in Germany. Let that number sink in... 100