USA immigration history is full of draconian and hospitable seasons. Our Statue of Liberty represents the best in our history as Ellis Island welcomed millions willing to brave the journey, go through the vetting and find a new home in a new nation. We have also had horrific seasons of xenophobia and racial injustice, from the suffering of the Irish in the 1840s to the anti-Chinese laws on the West Coast in the 1890s to the anti-Semitism of the 1920s -1940s. Dark chapters indeed. With huge borders with Canada and Mexico and relative economic prosperity from the end of WWII to the 1970s, comprehensive policies were not needed, and many found their way to flourishing.
With the open-door policies initiated in the 1960s and never refined since, we have crises of capacity and compassion, economics and social cohesion. People from nations other than Mexico or who are not officially refugees and follow the rules sacrifice much as they wade through the red tape and often pay thousands of dollars to get legal residency and eventually citizenship. Meanwhile, millions of “undocumented” pour over the border, use our services and find work. Billions of dollars are sent back over the border. Most folks are hard-working and want a better future. Some are felons and need permanent deportation. A few use our porous border to infiltrate as terrorists.
The solution comes in three steps: First, real reform that solves the genuine hardship issues of DACA and refugees, while allowing for screening out terrorists. Pathways for temporary work and long-term residency and citizenship need clear guidelines, fair application and a hospitable spirit. Reform must also not favor foreign students for college dollars and the undocumented for entry-level labor. Second, border security and ICE enforcement must be unimpeded by the misguided and sometimes hostile sanctuary movement. Third, current undocumented and temporary residents who are repeated violent felons should be deported and security personnel alerted to any attempts at reentry.
The above can be done in a matter of weeks with courage and wisdom; however, Democrats must stop vying for cheap votes and Republicans for cheap labor. Both parties are responsible for the mess and it will take people of conscience and intelligence in both parties for reform to work. Security on our borders and screening some from a handful of countries is not racism and xenophobia. Favoring the productive is good common sense and national policy.
Finally, a word to the compassionate: reasonable guidelines and enforcement of the law is not a violation of either the Bible of human pathos. If one feel certain laws are unjust – change the laws! Extreme positions of groups like La Raza must be rejected in favor of inclusion with integrity and a refusal to exchange one form of racism for another.