By Brenda Robinson
Politics are as American as apple pie. We expect any United States Congress and any U.S. president to engage in politics, reading the pulse of voters, in most cases, before making decisions or setting policy. However, there are situations so crucial and potentially counterproductive that politics must take a back seat for the good of the country. Therefore, the Central America immigration crisis demands some degree of humanitarianism on behalf of the president, Republicans, and Democrats. Equally important, the sentiments of the American people must be a consideration.
And, the American people are divided. There are groups verbalizing the necessity to expeditiously return these citizens to their home countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the majority of which are children. Citizens of Arizona, Texas, and Michigan have demonstrated against the influx of Central Americans into their respective cities. These demonstrators and other citizens who want the immigrants immediately deported, believe these Central American children will deplete resources—financial, medical and housing—thus causing American children to suffer. Other critics believe money earmarked for the immigrant children should be used to combat the violence among children in cities like Chicago. These critics deny they are racist and contend Central Americans ethnicity, people of color, is not an issue.
Other Americans have different sentiments. The state of California has welcomed the children, saying this is a humanitarian situation as the children are unprotected in their native countries and face possibilities of human trafficking. In addition, most of these children will eventually be united with family members who are living in America. Supporters of the children remaining in the U.S. stated critics would disagree with deportation if the immigrants’ ethnicity was white.
President Barack Obama has called for Congress to approve 3.7 billion dollars to deal with the crisis. The funds would be used to provide adequate food, clothing, and shelter for the immigrants, while they are in this country. In addition, the dollars would add more border patrol workers and judges to speed up the exportation process.
Even though Republicans blame President Obama for the border/immigration problem, it was President George W. Bush who signed legislation, after passed by Congress, to make it difficult to deport Central American immigrants. Other than Canada and Mexico, children are covered by a law that prohibits deportation, pending a hearing to decide if there are reasons for the children to remain. When the law is followed, the legal process could take several years. In some cases, even when conducting hearings, some children would not appear for hearings and there was no urgency to make them appear, according to reports.
Here is how the political stance has played out. Republicans said they will vote for the requested Obama dollars only if the Bush legislation is changed. Democrats said they will not vote for changes. A new national poll shows 53 pecent of Americans support the president’s short-term plan. However, the majority of Americans believe President Obama has not properly dealt with overall immigration issues, including Central America.
The bottom line is of all the things the president has done right, he got it wrong this time. The president must encourage Democrats to work with Republicans and develop a more concise plan for deportation of Central Americans. Perhaps such a plan could include a protective policy, in conjunction with the Central American government, for the children who do not meet the criteria for remaining in America. Perhaps such a plan could involve a Presidential Summit of non-governmental social scientist for input. Perhaps the plan should include input from President Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative.
Corporate greed, tax loopholes for the wealthy, wars, lost of jobs through technology and outsourcing, and just plain wasteful government spending has robbed America of financial resources. In addition, America has massive issues with center-city youth crime, homelessness, medical neglect of it’s citizens, and miseducation in secondary education, financial resources and energy must be directed to these problems. The inscription engraved of the base of the Statue of Liberty unfortunately can no longer be instituted. It reads:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.” What a noble, compassionate sonnet. Unfortunately, it is no longer valid.