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DAVID ROSMAN: Fixing border problems will require change in Congress

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:52 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I was reading a number of articles concerning the massive influx of children across our southern border when I came across a statement by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, who compared the increasing number of undocumented and unaccompanied children to the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

He is quoted as saying that “under Article 1, Section 10 (of the Constitution), the state of Texas would appear to have the right, not only to use whatever means, whether it's troops, even using ships of war, even exacting a tax on interstate commerce that wouldn't normally be allowed to have or utilize, they'd be entitled in order to pay to stop the invasion.”

I can see the political cartoonists having a field day creating a Maginot Line along the Rio Grande, complete with trenches for our troops to occupy while the hordes of children stream across the border to a land that is safer and freer than the country they have left.

So far, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children have been picked up at the U.S. border since Oct. 1 — and counting. Most are from the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. According to Sen. John McCain, only 1,169 have been sent home, which he called an "incentive for others to come to the U.S."

It is the worse humanitarian crisis in America since the Civil War, and the legislative body that Mr. Gohmert belongs to is doing nothing to help fix the situation.

There are a number of reasons why this situation has come to the brink of catastrophe, and most of the blame can go to the House of Representatives.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has repeatedly said that he will not bring the Senate’s immigration bill to the House floor for consideration this year. Nor will the House Republicans work with the president to resolve the problems the GOP is harping about so loudly. They are too busy seeking to sue the president or calling for impeachment. Great theater, but no action.

There is no need for the president to be on the ground along the Texas-Mexico border. It would only be a photo opportunity, and the area where the president would visit would be sanitized of any unwanted elements.

I am sure the GOP would find something to beat the drums if Obama did put “boots on the ground.” There can be no satisfying the right wing of the right wing.

It amazes me how few people understand the complexity of the situation on the border, including myself. I have never set foot along the almost 2,000 miles of demarcation.

Yet, I know enough to know that a 100 percent secured border is not possible; closing one “hole” will only “create” another. I am sure the president knows enough that any photo op would only cause more problems than it would help. It certainly will not result in new legislation and the passage of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill.

A 2008 bill signed by President George W. Bush is causing some — but not all — of the problems. It requires unaccompanied children to have an immigration hearing before being deported.

The problem is that there are not enough immigration judges to handle the load, so the hearings are being deferred. There is not enough funding to handle this humanitarian crisis, and Boehner has yet to bring the president’s emergency spending request for $3.7 billion to the House floor for consideration. That money would help alleviate many of the problems the tea party Republicans are so upset about.

We are a nation of immigrants, though not one of openness. With each new wave of immigration, negativity has followed closely. Italian, Irish, Jewish and Chinese immigrants have been considered a “threat” to the nation.

Today it is anyone who comes from a Southern or Latin American nation. The Senate has passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill. It is time for Boehner and his cronies to stop playing politics and start being leaders.

To resolve the border problems will require a change in Congress. It is time we remove the radical right from office and move in moderates and Democrats who will be willing to work across the aisle to return to their homeland those who are here illegally and to help stop the overflow of unaccompanied children sent by their parents to achieve a better life.

So Rep. Vicky Hartzler, are you willing to be part of the most ineffectual Congress in history, or are you willing to step across the rotunda and consider the Senate’s immigration bill?

Do you want to continue the policies we have in place now, which are not working, or are you willing to work with your colleagues to change the system for the better?

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more of his commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.com.


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Comments

Ellis Smith July 16, 2014 | 7:30 a.m.

"It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ingorance." - Thomas Sowell

The core problem is the governments and economic conditions (the first is today almost exclusively responsible for the second) in those Central American "republics" named. If we could re-arrange world geography so that Africa physically abutted the United States we'd be awash with refugees from several African countries.

Belize is a small (about the size of Maryland) English-speaking country in Central America that borders on Guatemala. While Belize is hardly a wealthy state and has serious problems caring for its own citizens, it too is being flooded with illegal immigrants from Guatemala.

Some of us HAVE been to the border (both sides of it); some of us have a little knowledge of Central and South America: enough to, as Sowell suggests, be aware that we're ignorant.

Let's see how your "new Congress" solves or can even correctly identify the real problem.

"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong." - Thomas Sowell

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 16, 2014 | 9:46 p.m.

En boca cerrada entran moscas. It's a fairly common ailment, and does not require a trip to either the U.S.-Mexican border or to Central America to suffer from it. In fact a personal trip to Central America might in the present case be positively therapeutic.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 20, 2014 | 7:21 a.m.

ADDENDUM. There is also a border between Belize and Honduras, the Sarstoon River, but there are no towns, bridges or roads along that border.

However, there's both legal and illegal traffic on water and by air in the Gulf of Honduras. This is a well-known route for drug smuggling from Colombia to the United States and Canada.

Belize has been given a modern, armed coast guard cutter to interdict surface smuggling, but there's nothing Belize can do about air traffic. Belize has no air force, and even a quick look at a Central American map confirms that all an airplane needs to do after taking off from Honduras is veer to the west and then go north through GUATEMALA to aviod flying over Belize.

Bear in mind that Guatemala also has one of the world's worst human rights records regarding its own population.

Perhaps this "new Congress" will also find solutions to those problems.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman July 20, 2014 | 9:41 a.m.

Thank you ellis for the long explanation, though I am curious about your Spanish. I am not sure why sinking ships is important here. Your translation please?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 20, 2014 | 10:16 a.m.

Sinking of a ship can be important, especially to any person or persons aboard the ship. I enjoy your translation.

(Report Comment)

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