Somewhere in the big mess that is the demagoguery, tragedy, and confusion at the border with Mexico there is a serious conversation to be had among adults who can bring themselves to rise above the sound bites and the talk show points. Unfortunately, I can’t find any of these people. Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal captured the situation well: “No doubt buried somewhere inside the administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy on illegal border crossings is an important issue related to the rule of law or national sovereignty. Just don’t expect anything resembling serious thought to compete with images of kids in Border Patrol processing cages”.
And there is no question that President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in their zeal to enforce the border, inadvertently picked victims whose mere presence in the mix compounded by their separation from their family made for a level of compassion that clearly overwhelmed any rational ends. So Trump backed off, at least until some judge rules on his stopgap measures. Then what?
Folks, there are only two choices: either enforce the immigration law or change it. Oh sure, there is a third option–ignore the law, as Barack Obama did with the “catch and release” of many thousands of illegals and their children, most of whom are still with us somewhere in the country. And this is where we have been since 1986, when Ronald Reagan in essence granted amnesty to about three million illegal immigrants in exchange for enhanced border control and immigration peace. The Republican Party then said, no more, and here we are.
Asylum is a noble calling and an important element of international law. But what if a million people came to the Laredo bridge tomorrow demanding an asylum review? Suppose we had in place enough administrative judges to handle and process that many cases on a timely basis; what would happen next? We would soon have millions more, then millions more. There is no end. How many should we be obligated to accept? Some say all of them. And is their plight our responsibility in the first place? Some seem to think so. We had better find some of these adults I have mentioned very soon and get on with some serious conversation to answer these questions.