Americans are being tested today on many things; for me, immigration is the most painful test. The images of immigrant children being torn from their parents, and crying while being gassed invade my sleep. My Advent reading is the latest of Pope Francis’s books A Stranger and You Welcomed Me. The title comes from Matthew 25:36 where Jesus is conducting the last judgment. At this judgment he is dividing his people; sending many away from Him forever, and inviting others to remain with Him. They ask, “Why Lord are you doing this?” He says to those staying, “Because when I was hungry you fed me, when I was thirsty you gave me to drink, and when I was a stranger, you welcomed me.” They then asked, “Lord when did we do these things?” He said, “When you did those things to the least of my brethren, you did them to me.” He then said the converse to those he was sending away. How do we approach this test?
All religions and Atheistic codes of ethics agree on this basic tenet, treat others the way you want to be treated. The emotion driving this ethic is, compassion. How then do we apply compassion to the migrants at our borders? The answer is not simple, because the numbers are so large. In October alone, Border Patrol agents seized 50,975 migrants. The number of migrants seeking asylum has gone up nearly 2,000 percent in 10 years. We all would agree that calling migrants names (e.g. rapists) is not the answer. We would also agree that calling troops to the border to the tune of $220 million does not work either. What would work? I have a few suggestions, but we need to dialogue on this question to find the middle ground.
The first suggestion is really tough: Congress needs to pass immigration reform. But we all know, Congress is impotent. Why? Because we are so divided. Example: in 2013 the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill that the Republican House refused to even vote on. Who is to blame? We the People are to blame. To unlock Congress we have to move to the middle, and demand our Representatives and Senators pass this legislation.
Secondly, we have to streamline the immigration bureaucracy. Example: the backlog of cases in immigration court for migrants seeking asylum is now at the colossal number, 791,821. Last year only 34,000 cases were adjudicated. We need more judges to make this efficient and quick.
Lastly, the ultimate solution is helping to solve the poverty, violence and chaos in Latin America, the conditions that are driving these human beings to America. The migrants would rather stay where they are. We need to help them.
These are my starter thoughts for discussion. We can do this. Our souls are in the balance.
Egg Harbor, Wis.