As I read CNN commentator David Gergen’s column this morning, a couple things struck me. First was that David Gergen really is an idiot. The second thing was that Washington has truly become dysfunctional to the point that a relatively simple “crisis”, 50,000 Central American children showing up on our door step, is turning into political and financial disaster, and as usual, the Rs and D’s seem to be moving toward their usual ineffective and expensive “solutions”.
I guess if you call someone an idiot, you must first explain why that is. Mr. Gergen says the US should do as the law states, and uses the example of when the US turned away a ship load of Jews from Europe during WWII, forcing them to return home where most met with disastrous results, as why we should allow all these kids to say. That’s not why he is an idiot because of course, he is correct about that. He is an idiot because he then goes on to say that much of the President’s request for four billion dollars to fix the situation is needed and that the kids should be given their expensive hearings first, and then sent home??? He says much of the money will be needed to provide attorneys, logics and for the actual hearings as well. So why does he want to go to all the time and expense if you are just going to send them home? That is why David Gergen is an idiot and a heartless one at that!
Having said that and speaking of idiots, the handling of this crisis really has been a disgraceful display from almost all involved. Republicans are using the situation for political grandstanding, while Democrats are as usual, trying to fix the problem by throwing money and bureaucracy at it. Then you have Joe American out protesting in the street, appearing as if Americans have finally lost all their humanity. I’m sorry, I expect better from my people.
This is a crisis, and not one made overnight, and what it requires to fix it is smart leadership. That is something we seem to have been missing for a half century or so now.
First of all, smart leadership would not call this an immigration crisis, as all, R’s, D’s and the media insist on doing. This is a refugee crisis and should be address as such. If 50,000 kids show up in Africa or the Middle East, international agencies, like the UN for example are right there, to help with both the refugees, as well as the situation that caused it. Where is the UN and more important, where have they been as this crisis has played out for years in these Central American countries. These corrupt, oligarchy governments have been moving toward their tipping points for several years and all seemed to ignore the problem. Now that these governments have exhausted credit lines like the World Bank and the IMF, they find themselves with no economy and social disorder that is out of control. That is not the fault of the US, yet is now our problem.
One also has to ask, where has the Organization of American States been as well. This crisis might be a perfect time to drop out of that useless waste of time and money. These days, with the exception of Mexico, Panama and Columbia, the OAS is more Latin America against the US on almost all issues. Congress has cut funding but perhaps complete withdrawal at this point would make much better sense as their help in all this has been zip, which is what we should give them from now on.
And while I’m spreading blame, I also have to ask, where has the Catholic Church been for all this? If there is one entity in Latin America that is closest to universally respected and listened to, it is the Church. Where have they been and where are they now? The Vatican is one of the world’s largest bully’s pulpit. Why has it been silent?
Far from silent on the other hand has been some very ugly Americans. I must admit in their defense, most are not racist or hateful, but actually just fed up. Not a good excuse to lose our humanity but it is a very real reason. While R’s and D’s, and the media they own, discuss “immigration reform”, Americans are sitting out their scratching their heads watching their jobs go away and their pay drop year after year because of illegal immigration. What we seem to be hearing, masked as immigration reform, is really the “cheap labor bill” that is more about “amnesty” or “roads to citizenship” than stopping job stealing immigrants.
Here is news flash to the Rs, D’s and their talking heads in their media. Americans will do any work, so stop saying immigrants will do work Americans won’t. If they will run into burning buildings and firefights, you have to think they will do anything. Immigrants don’t do the work Americans won’t, they work for what Americans can’t! Please, that is very important to remember. It was not fair to tell us to aspire to live the American Dream, that house with the picket fence, 2 cars and 2.5 college bound kids with perfect teeth and enough left over to bank a little and maybe have some fun too, and then make us compete with temporary workers for our pay today and the very companies we work for, for our benefits tomorrow. Very unfair and the source of this ugly and un-American behavior.
What seems silly about Mr. Gergen’s plan is that it includes not only sending kids back to disastrous futures, but it also includes spending much of the almost $4 billion dollars requested by the White House? Seems like an awful lot for nothing.
Perhaps a better route might be to instead do just what the parents of the children claim they want, and that is, give them a better life. Instead of moving them into the process the current law requires, how about we just put them all in foster homes and adoption programs instead, save the $4 billion, and the costs we do incur, can come from the billion a year we fund the OAS with. That should more than cover it and the US can hold their head high. In a country of 330 million people, 50,000 more kids is nothing. In the eyes of the world it would look right because it would in fact be the right thing to do. Send them back and the world will see the disastrous results as well.
The other half of the solution must also happen and that is securing the border and helping Mexico, the original source of our situation, emerge from the difficult transition from Latin America banana republic style of government, to a modern first world economy. In a cash strapped government like the US, justifying sending money to build Mexico’s economy, when our own needs the money, is a tough call.
The 10,000 pound gorilla in the room that nobody wants to talk about is that this all began many years ago with Mexicans flooding the US, not looking for a new home, but a place to work. The US is not the world’s employer and 11 million illegal workers taking jobs from Americans is not right. Clearly, Washington wants cheap labor for companies over high paying jobs for Americans. The failed border security, as well as no teeth to laws against the hiring of illegals should be enough evidence of that. But one can also see that with the current immigration reform proposals that are way too concerned about guest worker programs and paths to citizenship, than protecting jobs.
What the Rs and the D’s, as well as their corporate media, fail to tell you is that wages for non-skilled and semi-skilled labor over the last TWO DECADES, has fallen! Slowly but incrementally, wages have fallen in those two areas, the same areas that illegal immigrants find jobs with the skills they bring. As I said earlier, go to any construction site and you’ll see. Have the prices of houses, cars, school clothes or a gallon of milk, anything, except wages for non or semi-skilled labor gone down over that same period? I don’t know the percentage of the US workforce that falls in the low or semi-skilled areas, but it is significant and more important, it is not jobs Americans won’t do. Americans will pour concrete, frame houses, lay tile, set bricks, load trucks, cut meat and on and on. Are those jobs Americans won’t do?
Investing in Mexico’s economic development, if done correct, is the only solution to the real problem the US has and the one expressed so ugly with the current crisis. I would argue a “Marshall Plan” for Mexico is needed, and combined with a humane and respectful sealing of the border, would allow Mexicans to live and work where they really want, here in Mexico. How do we pay for it? We can start with a piece of the $10 billion we give to the UN since they are ignoring the problem. Add aid we currently send to Central American nations that is being squandered anyway as well and we are well on the way to financing a Marshall Plan that, if it works as well as it did in Germany, would be money well spent!
It is important to understand, Mexicans do not want to live in the US. Ask a Mexican does he want to and he will of course say yes. But ask him does he want to live there forever and almost always, they say no. That means, they are not there looking for a new life, they are there looking for a job, and as I said, the US is not the worlds employment agency.
Securing borders is another issue and my guess is the idiots in Washington will mess that up too if given the chance. Any sealing of the border must be done respectfully and humane, and at the same time, seal the border and not break the bank in the process. It seems we currently have a large number of very trainable government employees coming home from the middle east and bringing a lot of equipment with them. Retraining soldiers to be border security would be very easy and with desert logistical equipment, combined with drones and satellite technology they are also bringing home, my guess is we could not only stop illegal immigrants, but drug dealers as well.
I am not proposing we militarize the border. It is important to remember, almost all of the immigrants are nothing more than poor, desperate and most of all, harmless souls. They do not need to be arrested at gun point and processed in a system that is expensive and irrelevant. Do we really need to keep a file and fingerprints on Jose and Maria looking for work? And do you think it will stop them somehow? What we need is many more bodies, jeeps, ATVs and radios to cover every mile of the border and simply escort them back. They don’t need guns, just water food and a ride back. The only training soldiers need is to speak Spanish and explain to them that from now on, nobody crosses that border and any attempt is a waste of their time and money. They will quit coming.
However, the problem inside Mexico still needs to be fixed. I live here and I know this country very well now. What I see is a government and people very unlike Central America and the rest of Latin America. It is important to remember, Mexico is North America, not Central America, and the reason for that is admittedly more business, than cultural. What I see though, is people more like US Americans that any other Latin American country. People where blue jeans, tennis shoes, they drive Fords and Chevrolets, they listen to American music and love hamburgers and hot dogs. They like our TV, lifestyle and our way of doing business. Most importantly though, they like and respect us, something most of Latin America does not. In fact, countries like Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, and one could argue all of South America for that matter, have a seething hatred for the US but tend to hide it when US dollars are in the room. You should hear them when we leave the room though! The current Mexican government has made giant reforms in education, energy and economics. They have convinced me they are truly a reform minded government and one the US should partner with in a new relationship to solve the problems that overlap between the two countries.
What Mexico needs now is money and their problem is that in the past, when money comes in, it goes to unintended pockets too often. Again, old banana republic style of government and one that unfortunately, still exists here today in many areas. I would argue we strip back all funding to Mexico, and then reallocate much more, and target that money toward specific job producing programs that are administered and verifiable in the US. Jobs that would kick start areas like agriculture and tourism, existing industries that with just a bit more help, could begin to seriously develops a middle class in Mexico and thereby eliminate the so called “immigration problem” we currently have. It would also allow an overhaul of the law enforcement apparatus, badly needed to eradicate the small but very violent drug cartels that are having way too much impact on Mexico’s economy and future.
The entire world is watching the US and how we deal with this problem will be another part of how we are viewed globally. Fixing it in a smart, humane and positive way, finding good and loving homes for those precious children who are victims in all this, is just simply the American thing to do. Rs, you claim concern for unborn children, well how about those that are born and sufferings? D’s, is there any bleeding heart left inside you?
Come on Americans, do the right thing and make your lawmakers do it too. This is not our problem in the making but it looks like it will be our problem to fix. How do we do it and live with ourselves, our neighbor and our futures is the question?