May 9, 2023 - 9:00 pm
Immigration should be a constant topic of conversation in this country, not just when there are tens of thousands of people pressing against our back door.
According to CNN, there may be as many as 150,000 people waiting near the U.S.-Mexico border in advance of the demise this week of Title 42.
President Joe Biden is sending 1,500 active-duty troops to lend a hand to swamped Customs and Border Protection personnel, while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is sending up to 10,000 troops from his state’s National Guard.
For the past three years, the section of the U.S. Code known as Title 42 has allowed the United States to keep out migrants, under the pretext of protecting public health and warding off the coronavirus.
The Biden administration has played games. While Biden promised to end the public health order linked to Title 42 while campaigning for the White House, he preserved it as president. In November, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan declared the Title 42 order “arbitrary and capricious” and prohibited U.S. officials from using it to expel migrants and refugees.
If the left is looking for a hero who is responsible for ending Title 42, or if the right is searching for a villain, both sides can skip over Biden. He is just an ambivalent passenger on the immigration reform train. And when the president does take action on the border, it’s usually to copy or co-opt the draconian policies of President Donald Trump. Face it: Biden is a bust on the border. Sullivan deserves the praise for killing Title 42 — or, depending on your view, the blame.
Let’s get something else straight. Those desperate souls at the border — coming from bleak places such as Honduras, Haiti or Venezuela — are not invaders. That’s right-wing hooey. These people have essentially been invited. Americans are in a post-COVID hangover, increasingly tired of working and hoping to find their life’s purpose after the Great Resignation. The fruited plain is dotted with “help wanted” signs, and someone needs to do the jobs that Americans don’t want to do at any wage.
Of course we need secure borders, and there’s always going to be a role for enforcement. But let’s be smart. Spending $5 billion on high-tech electronic border surveillance gadgets is better than dropping $25 billion on a wall that’s worthless because the determined and the hungry will find a way around it, over it or under it. If you were determined and hungry and stuckon the other side, wouldn’t you?
We also need people. We could use fresh blood and renewed optimism. While the native-born say America’s brightest days are in the rearview mirror, immigrants looking to the future see blue skies.
There should be multiple paths for migrants and refugees to legally enter the United States. Isn’t the whole brand of America centered on welcoming foreigners? If we’re still the country we used to be, then why would we turn away thousands of people who had the courage, initiative and fortitude to walk hundreds of miles just for the chance to be granted permission to enter the United States?
That’s right. These people wait in line to turn themselves in to authorities in the hopes of getting permission to enter this country. And yet, boneheaded Republicans — including Abbott, a fake tough guy who picks on immigrants because he doesn’t have the guts to crack down on businesses that hire them — claim that the recent arrivals are coming “illegally.” As criminals go, these folks are amateurs.
If they’re lucky enough to be admitted, the migrants and refugees will do crummy jobs for minimum wage — or less — to give themselves and their children a shot at a better life. The scoundrels!
Now Republicans in Congress and the Democrat in the White House are joining forces to erase our asylum laws and rig the system to make it virtually impossible to get refugee status. Thanks to changes implemented by the Biden administration, future applicants have to apply for U.S. asylum from their home countries or seek to be refugees in the first country they came to after leaving their own.
America, you’re breaking my heart. Our leaders are not up to this challenge. The folks waiting at the border are precisely the kind of warriors we need in this country. To make room, we could identify a couple million entitled and embittered Americans we ought to deport.
The native-born aren’t the reason America exists. That distinction goes to the huddled masses currently assembled along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.