President Trump is absolutely right when he says there is a crisis at the southern border. He is, of course, absolutely wrong about what he thinks the crisis is. Mexico is not sending us rapists and murderers. There are no hordes of con artists waiting to invade and harm America. His hyperbolic, racist, fear mongering is not only shameful, it is immoral and a canker on the soul of America.
Liberals are quick to decry Trump’s racist lies and they should. However, now that they control the House of Representatives they could do more to propose policy solutions. The House limited in what they can do but the fifteen plus candidates running for president could articulate clearly what they would do to help ease this crisis if elected. Sadly, for the most part those on the campaign trail are silent on the issue. Unfortunately, I think I know why. They know they have to win in swing states and talking about how to help refugees from other nations isn’t great politics. You have to focus on the bread and butter issues that affect voters directly. No one wants to be the candidate labeled as putting immigrants over citizens.
So here we are: liberals won’t talk about it and Republicans are led by a man who is clearly lying and using the issue as a fear inducing weapon. So what could be done? Imagine a world where we had leaders, not politicians, where we had people committed to principles not just polls. Imagine if we had a citizenry committed to being informed–motivated by doing the right thing regardless of party. Imagine a world committed to ideas and morals who owned the hard labor of democracy not just blamed the other side or its shortcomings.
There are real policy solutions to this crisis here are just a few ideas from the migration policy Institute
- Establishing a border court division of the immigration court system to hear cases denied by asylum officers. This would move current cases through to completion, buying time for hiring and training additional immigration judges and limiting the growth of court case backlogs that now exceed 800,000. Immigration court resources have not been sized in proportion to the dramatic growth of front-line border enforcement resources in the post 9/11 period. Additional asylum officers may also be needed. These imbalances must be addressed for border enforcement to succeed, given the dramatic change in the character of today’s migration flows.
- Changing asylum processing to allow DHS’ well-trained, professional cadre of asylum officers to not only do the initial credible-fear screening of border cases but to see the cases through to completion. Currently, cases that pass the credible-fear screening are turned over to the immigration courts, where they languish for years because of huge backlogs there. Adjusting who does the processing would relieve some of the burdens on immigration judges and the immigration court system and inject timeliness and fairness back into asylum processing, giving both quicker resolution to meritorious cases and ending the perverse incentives that encourage some people without protection claims to file.
- Refitting Border Patrol stations and ICE facilities to accommodate the new flows of predominantly families and children. Today’s needs include improved medical care; suitable detention facilities and capacity; interagency processing arrangements to get children out of Border Patrol and ICE custody within short, legally required periods; and strengthened partnerships with nongovernmental stakeholders to manage the new demands presented by these increasingly humanitarian flows.
- Greater focus on improving capacity and infrastructure at ports of entry, which have not received the same attention as operations between ports of entry. Technology to improve the detection of illicit traffic is essential, especially to interdict the drugs and contraband that the President wrongly claims would be stopped by a wall. Moreover, by declaring that asylum applications would be accepted only at legal ports of entry, but limiting the number allowed each day to file claims (a practice known as metering), the administration is forcing asylum seekers to choose between waiting for months in Mexico or attempting to cross illegally. Inadequate capacity at ports of entry to respond to such edicts has caused a growing humanitarian crisis on both sides of the border.
Or like Jodi Ziesemer recommends we could treat detained migrants as refugees. Using a refugee resettlement model we could permanently resettle tens of thousands of refugees for less than the 6 billion Mr. Trump wants for a wall we know will coast way more than that and not work. In fact a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that refugees who entered the US as adults from 2010-14 paid, on average, $21,000 more in taxes than they got in any kind of welfare payments. So investing in refugees today can actually pay dividends in the future.
So what can I do now?
Be informed! Turn off cable news chatter and dial into the serious media who cover the complexities of these issues. Here are some of my thoughts on being “informed”
Demand more of yourself and others in our political discourse.
Reach out to elected officials and ask for their policy approaches regarding the southern border.
Most importantly, in my opinion, learn the stories of these refugees. Reach out to those in your community and pray for the empathy it will require to be our brother’s keeper.
Of course every nation has the right to control their borders. An honest approach to the humanitarian crisis in Central and South America will require soul searching and difficult policies for all Western Hemisphere nations. Fear mongering, racial lies will not only exacerbate the crisis it will risk the soul of the principles that make this nation great.