Consider that 52,000 undocumented immigrant children are known to have crossed the southern border unaccompanied so far this year as of mid-June, fleeing violence and poverty in their homelands. The trend is expected to continue.
So is the record-setting trend of deaths in the inhospitable South Texas brush, where immigrants risk heat exhaustion as they seek to evade the Border Patrol.
And let's not overlook the ones who succeeded. There are an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country, 1.7 million of whom are what's known as DREAMers — young people brought here as children, who would be eligible to stay under legislation known as the DREAM Act if only it were to pass. The DREAM Act would be one humanitarian step in the direction of comprehensive immigration reform. It offers legal residency to people who can't be blamed for having come here illegally, in exchange for attaining higher education or serving in the military.
So, back to Farenthold and his wilted olive branch: He says his colleagues are amenable to several piecemeal measures such as hiring more immigration judges so we can hurry up and send these children back to places like Honduras, which has the world's highest homicide rate. That's actually part of Obama's plan, which we'll get to in greater detail in a moment.
Republicans blame Obama as the cause of the immigration crisis because he decided administratively a while back, after a failed attempt at immigration reform, to foot-drag on sending DREAMers back to where they don't remember having come from.
Later, immigrant smugglers spun a myth that children who make it here won't be sent back — even bloodthirsty criminals need marketing. Obama's critics blame the market response on his DREAMer policy — as if the lying criminal exploiters of human cargo would need Obama to perpetuate their lie, and as if the increasing violence and poverty of the immigrants' homelands weren't motive enough to chance the dangerous trip to our safe, prosperous country.
Well, this is not a marketing pitch: No other president has deported more immigrants. "Obama is a bad president for immigrants," an immigrant told Mary Lee Grant, writing for the Caller-Times.
The deporter-in-chief asked Congress in a letter last week for help in moving forward with the following:
— "An aggressive deterrence strategy focused on the removal and repatriation of recent border crossers;
— "A sustained border security surge through enhanced domestic enforcement, including interdiction and prosecution of criminal networks;
— "A significant increase in immigration judges, reassigning them to adjudicate cases of recent border crossers, and establishing corresponding facilities to expedite the processing of cases involving those who crossed the border in recent weeks;
— "A stepped up effort to work with our Central American partners to repatriate and reintegrate migrants returned to their countries, address the root causes of migration, and communicate the realities of these dangerous journeys."
That should cover just about every gripe of those who accuse him of lax enforcement.
Once they've gotten the deterrence part done, perhaps Obama can set aside his legacy-building and his critics can set aside their career-building long enough to address comprehensive reform. We keep hearing about the prevailing wisdom that an election year is not a safe time to address comprehensive immigration reform. Meanwhile, failure to address it becomes increasingly unsafe.
Houston Chronicle. July 3, 2014.
Our soul: We are still a nation of immigrants
In our national body politic, we look to the Constitution as our brain, but the Declaration of Independence is our soul. Among those ephemeral ideals that define who we are, Thomas Jefferson proclaimed it self-evident that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This proclamation does not end at the border. For centuries, we have shouted these truths from the rooftops, striving to be a beacon unto the world. So we should not be surprised when people in dire straits follow that beacon to our doorstep.
Whether pilgrims seeking escape from religious persecution or refugees from civil wars halfway around the globe, our American soul has always instructed us to welcome these newcomers. In fact, King George III's obstruction of immigration laws and refusal to encourage immigration to the colonies was one of Jefferson's stated indictments against the crown.
This is a problem that feels all too familiar, with our broken immigration system resulting in chaos along the border while Congress refuses to act.
It may be easy to blame the Central American refugees for believing mistruths about legal permits for children, but desperate people often cling to dreams. After all, not so long ago a generation of immigrants came to our nation on the promise that the streets were paved with gold. Now we see streets filled with protesters trying to block buses full of women and children looking for the American Dream.
There's nothing new in that, either. For as long as we've welcomed immigrants, skeptics and nativists have warned about newcomers bringing disease, stealing jobs and sullying our nation with foreign values. Even Benjamin Franklin worried that German immigrants would be unable to assimilate, and would "Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them."
So while some may look at the children on our borders and call them an illegal invasion, it is hard not to see in their hopeful eyes a reflection of those ancestors who once sailed the ocean in search of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The Eagle of Bryan-College Station. July 6, 2014.
Immigration solution is in Washington, not Murrieta
"I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. . In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still." — President Ronald Reagan in his farewell address
It was a sad spectacle last week when many residents of Murrieta, California, angrily blocked three busloads of refugees from Central America from their community. Many of those protesting loudly appeared not to be far removed from immigration to this nation themselves.
It isn't hard to be sympathetic with the residents of that southern California city, which experienced a 233.7 percent population growth between 2000 and 2010. They worried that the mothers and children in the buses being transferred from Texas to a Department of Homeland Security center in Murrietta would be processed and released onto the streets of the town. The influx of so many undocumented immigrants would tax the city's strained resources.
Still, though, what a terrible way to treat people who came to this country fleeing poverty and drug violence in their home nations. Haven't they been traumatized enough?
Using the words of Jesus, President Reagan spoke often of "the Shining City on the Hill," a beacon to the world of the best in humankind, a land of opportunity and hopes and dreams — indeed, the American Dream. We can't say to the world that we are the best there is and add, but don't come here.
To be sure, this country has rules and regulations involving immigration and they must be upheld. People who come here must do so legally.
But the solution is to stop those coming here illegally before they reach our borders. That is the job of the federal government, and in that it has failed miserably. The president has refused to enforce the laws. The Congress refuses to deal at all with the influx of people coming here illegally. The members lack the political courage to do what they all know they must do.
At the same time, Congress has failed to appropriate sufficient resources to maintain our border security.
People of the many communities along the 1,954-mile border with Mexico shouldn't be expected to do the job of the federal government. And it is unseemly and dangerous to act as those residents of Murrieta did last week.
It is terrible the mothers and children of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras fear living in their own countries so much that they are willing to make the long and dangerous trek across Mexico to come to America. This country must work to ensure they can live safely in their homeland and we must help Mexico protect its southern border from emigrants seeking safety in the United States.