July 5, 2022 - 9:01 pm
The many blessings of being an American are often wasted on Americans.
As another Fourth of July has passed, I believe our country’s critics — liberals and conservatives alike — need to give it a rest. After all, there are desperate people around the world who are — quite literally — dying to get here.
In Texas — amid the scent of bluebonnets and the aroma of smoked brisket — there is, once again, the unmistakable stench of death.
As long as the new national symbol is the “Help Wanted” sign, there will always be unscrupulous human smugglers who try to turn a profit by supplying workers to do jobs that Americans aren’t doing.
Last week, in San Antonio, about 150 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, authorities discovered an abandoned tractor-trailer packed with dozens of migrants who had died of heat exhaustion. Another 16 people were alive but suffering from heat stroke to the point where their bodies were — according to San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood — “hot to the touch.” The survivors were taken to local hospitals, where some of them died.
So far, at least 53 people have died in this tragedy. According to media reports, the deceased included migrants from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.
Neither Republicans nor Democrats had the guts to tell Americans the truth — that more people will come, and more will die, until we humble ourselves and do something that we consider beneath us: our own chores.
Instead, politicians in both parties ghoulishly tried to use what were no doubt the agonizing deaths of desperate people to attack either their current opponent or someone who might, someday, be their opponent.
“These deaths are on Biden,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a likely 2024 GOP presidential candidate, tweeted within hours of the bodies being discovered. “They are the result of his deadly open border policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”
In a statement the next day, Biden fired back at Abbott by condemning those who engage in “political grandstanding around tragedy” — something that he called “shameful.”
Vice President Kamala Harris — who just might run against Abbott if Biden doesn’t seek re-election — got in a shot of her own during an interview on National Public Radio. Mentioning the tragedy in Texas, Harris said that “how the governor of that state responded really highlights part of the problem, because his response when there are 50 dead bodies in his state is to go straight to politics instead of dealing with the realities of the issue.”
Let’s deal with this reality: Both parties are responsible for these ghoulish moments. They’ve made a mess of the border, crippled the immigration system and poisoned the national debate. Proposing simple answers to a complicated issue, they mislead constituents by saying one thing to get elected and doing another once in office. Afraid to deal with the fallout, Democrats don’t really want to legalize the undocumented any more than Republicans want to deport them. And, as with other issues on which they’ve abdicated their duty, the consequences of failure can be deadly.
And this reality: Between Abbott, Biden and Harris, not one of them has told the truth about immigration. In April, Abbott made a big spectacle of ordering state police to inspect every commercial vehicle entering Texas through a port of entry; he abandoned the program after about 10 days because stalling trade with Mexico cost Texas businesses millions of dollars. While running for president, Biden courted Latinos by promising to end the thuggish policies of former President Donald Trump but kept many of them in place and expanded others because he didn’t want to be weak on the border. And Harris was supposed to be the White House’s point person on immigration, but she hasn’t shown up for work since her ill-fated trip to Guatemala and Mexico in June 2021 when the daughter of immigrants coldly told would-be refugees to the United States: “Do not come.”
And finally, this reality: Whether they’re storming the U.S. Capitol on the right, or threatening Supreme Court justices over abortion on the left, many Americans seem to be forgetting know how good they have it. They should be ashamed. Because, in Texas, authorities will soon be sending back to their home countries the bodies of 53 people who risked their lives for the chance to take our place and have our problems — and lost.
This past weekend, many Americans celebrated Independence Day by enjoying a cold beer or a glass of lemonade. But for heaven’s sake, they should skip the “whine.”
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His podcast, “Ruben in the Center,” is available through every podcast app.