The USA, like most nations, has a checkered history here.
We have been hospitable and xenophobic, paranoid and welcoming. From the Irish to the Chinese, from Eastern Europeans to Jewish Holocaust victims, we have often closed our doors or poorly received “the other.”
And, for over two centuries, we allowed the slave trade to flourish.
For the past 50+ years we have has a confusing system that both welcomes and keeps in the shadows millions of people. I am thrilled that millions want to find a better life from all parts of the world and our Hispanic/Latino sisters and brothers bring family and a great work ethic.
Our current chaos is unacceptable. Borders and security matter and deporting real criminals is part of keeping us safe. On the other hand, inhumane and inconsistent policies keep families apart (and this did not begin with Trump) while opening the floodgates for exploitation.
On the Mexican border, the Democrats want permanent voters (they are even beginning the slippery slope of advocating voting rights for non-citizens!) and many Republicans want the cheap labor. Mexico’s corrupt government fortifies its Guatemalan border while arguing for the right of undocumented crossings to the USA.
Meanwhile, thousands trying to enter legally wait years and pay thousands of dollars.
We can fix this, with courage and wisdom.
First, offer a legal pathway toward either guest worker status or citizenship for current undocumented, non-criminal residents. This means temporarily de-criminalizing the border crossing itself.
Second, deport all convicted felons to their countries of origin.
Third, convene a conference with Latin American leaders and talk frankly about shared concerns about migration, drug trafficking and security.
Fourth, call on the Mexican government to be a partner in helping all secure a better future with border security, hospitable immigration policy and rooting out corruption.
Fifth, improve border security and reunite all families where possible.
Sixth, call the bluff of the sanctuary movements and offer clear pathways out of the shadows (see above) for non-criminals.
And seventh, make sure American citizens and documented/legal residents have priority in education, job opportunities and services. It is wrong for a hard-working American student on scholarship and aid to have to take 5-6 years to graduate while a full tuition paying foreign student breezes through in 4 or an undocumented one gets a full ride.
Conservatives concerned with security are afraid of being labeled racist. Progressives speak of humanitarianism but offer little substance on security.
Let’s get past the accusations and agitation and actually love our neighbor by offering a system that is just! We can do this. Today. In Congress. And millions will rejoice.