The conversation around the Shutdown has moved to a more helpful position in the last 24 hours. Shutdowns are political stunt making and while they are an increasingly popular tactic for lawmakers, the idea that they only furlough non-essential workers isn’t true. At a time when fiscal issues are paramount, shutdowns of this magnitude end up costing an awful lot in both dollars and sense and public trust. Anyone on the frontlines of protecting our families, our markets and our security is never non-essential.
Questioning whether there is even an issue at the Border has become a popular refrain on the new far, far left. Inflammatory statements about abolishing I.C.E. are proven vote getters in some places. I listened the other night as a young but hardworking and very bright reporter said, after returning from the Border, that reports of criminals being apprehended after taking part in the caravans were wildly overstated and in fact, she emphasized only several people were believed to be potential terrorists. Let’s remember it only took 2 to end and maim lives at the Boston Marathon and 6 to bring a United Airlines jet down on Sept. 11. Several is several too many.
Both sides agree immigration policy is due for an upgrade. We focus too much on how people get into this Country and need to shift our funding, focus and capabilities to who is coming in. According to Homeland Security, funding the Wall has become an easy peg to hang our political hats on but the wall is a precursor to next stage security which is going to have to include facial recognition software, lie detector tests and iris readers, not just at the Mexico – U.S. border but at the Mexico/Guatemalan border. According to the Pew Research Center, “in 2017, there were more non-Mexicans apprehended at the U.S. Mexico Border than Mexicans.” In fact, the report states, the number of illegal aliens coming from Mexico is down 1.7 million since the year 2000.”
Mexico was insulted at the wagging finger from the North dictating what they were going to pay for and the role they’d been assigned, which felt like blame. Many Mexicans have played a historic role in the steel industry in the United States and continue to provide support in Agriculture and other key sectors of our economy. Their contributions to engineering, water potability and the Arts are areas of mutual interest and opportunity. For decades, many Mexicans have paid taxes proactively in the hope it will fast track citizenship. Others look to our tone and wonder whether the blame stems from skin color. Hurtful comments are not helpful. We need to partner with Mexico; not antagonize them. Whatever changes we hope to institute on our own border can be offered to Mexico as a model for support securing their own Southern Border. In many ways, Mexico should be applauded for the fact that many immigrants are choosing to stay there.
The good news today is that Sen. Tim Kaine (D) of Virginia is encouraging his colleagues to at least vote the bills out of Committee next week, which is promising and welcome news. Refusing to dialogue is as ineffective as shutting down the Government in the minds of the American people. If nothing else, it will shed light on some aspects of the various proposal that are not getting much play at the moment.
It would be a shame to lose sight of some major changes included in the Republican proposal.
- The President is vowing not to separate children and families again. Maybe that needs to be in ALL CAPS because it doesn’t appear to be breaking through the media static. A good starting point for the Democrats would be to give credit where credit is due.
- The Republican bill provides a long range commitment to the DACA program. A year ago, DACA shut down the Government. Today, the promise to provide a long term program for permanent non-immigrant status and/or citizenship is at risk for being overlooked because of the singular focus on wall funding.
- Some in Homeland Security are recommending major changes to who is eligible to apply for Asylum, including upending the current role that domestic battery and political and economic instability play in who can come in and who can’t. This area needs public input. Many Americans will have strong feelings about what this provision means in terms of our American Identity. If security is an issue, let’s hear more about that.
It cannot be overstated that the DACA provision is an opportunity for Congress to compromise and pass a law which is otherwise going to be decided by the Supreme Court. Congress can do this but not if the Democrats won’t talk until the Shutdown is ended. The President and the Republicans should stagger the re-opening of Government as a goodwill gesture but only with a commitment that a physical barrier will be discussed. The Democrats are wrong to refuse to consider any bill that includes funding for the Wall. The President may also consider adjusting his view of the wall to include a mitigated roll out of its construction schedule, and ultimately cutting the ask down to half, at least in the initial phase.
Shutdowns are an indication that our leaders aren’t capable of compromise on the key issues of our day. But the Supreme Court, just one block east of the Capitol Building, isn’t supposed to craft laws. Everybody needs to get back to their side of the street. They can. The sooner; the better.