Terry H. Schwadron
Sept. 23, 2021
How about we just tell every critic and pol, left and right, that they are justifiably angry to see the scenes of thousands of Haitians or former Haitians gathering at the Texas border.
Those calling out the scenes of using horse reins to drive migrants into the river are right. Those outraged that planeload of Haitians transplanted to South America have decided that this is the moment to cross multiple borders to enter the U.S. are right. The Border Patrol and Homeland Security personnel who are working to deport Haitians back to a devasted Haiti are right.
Republicans, Democrats, they’re all right: This is a mess.
And everyone on all sides is blaming Joe Biden. Even Biden says that by giving him a minute, this latest issue will return to better control.
Now, maybe being in the moral, legal, racial, economic, security “right” makes everyone feel better. But it doesn’t get the border problems resolved. This is not about solutions; it is about emotions.
Despite announcements from Joe Biden’s administration that the border basically remains closed, the word is out, person to person, community to community, that the border is porous, that the U.S. asylum system is overwhelmed and this is the extended moment to seek a better economic life in America.
Donald Trump’s walls didn’t fix it, grabbing babies out of the arms of migrant mothers didn’t stop waves of refugees, and certainly importing planeloads of Afghan refugees isn’t making immigration suddenly paletable to wide swaths of this country.
The people we elect to solve problems can’t focus sufficiently on immigration problems to come up with consistent, human, orderly means to handle what they see as an assault on the border.
And, so, we have individual law enforcement officers on horseback making what look to be bad decisions on how to push back. We have the rebel Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sending state troopers and miles of police cars to stop migrants. We have Homeland planeloads of Haitian migrants flying deportation flights back to a Haiti that they may not know and, in any case, is a place of hurricane, earthquake devastation and political chaos.
Acting like jerks is not fixing immigration patterns.
Whatever passes as planning in Washington is proving inadequate to handle the constant and building migrations at the border. This is not about walls or fancy talk, it is about the nuts and bolts of equipping an immigration system with the personnel, understandable rules and humanity needed to fit with a set of problems of this size.
We need for the noise to stop, and the systems to kick in. Setting the hype and political hypocrisy aside, what it looks like from the American bleacher seats is that we have lost much of our control.
Yes, this was happening with Donald Trump, despite his insistence otherwise, but his policies cared little for humane treatment, only better public imagery. Yes, Joe Biden is being bound to follow many of the same Trump policies that have been in place, including the so-called Title 42 rules to return single asylum seekers to Mexico or other countries. Yes, the rules keep changing. And yes, the numbers of migrants seeking a better life are being organized by smugglers or their own communities to come in ever-increasing numbers.
Are we on the phone to Peruvian officials to determine why they can’t stop a huge campaign among former Haitians there to come to the U.S. all at once?
Some individual men being returned to Haiti turned on and injured their U.S. pilots and Border Patrol escorts upon landing in Port-au-Prince. On the next runway, those U.S. planes are delivering blankets and food to Haitians left homeless by earthquake.
America is giving to Haitians and spewing out Haitians at the same time.
Our Civil Rights leaders are seeing images of light-skinned law enforcement officers manhandling Black migrant as the increasingly weird Tucker Carlson at Fox is seeing a wide Democratic plot to encourage Haitians to enter an undefended border to grab health care, jobs and social services from Americans who won’t even take an offered, free covid vaccine.
Some Haitians in families are being taken to sites to remain until they can get a hearing, while single adults are being flown away, anywhere. Meanwhile, non-Haitian Central Americans huddled just across the border in Mexico must be watching all of this with wonder.
Meanwhile, the Congress can’t seem to do anything other than issue press statements, decrying open borders or inhumane treatment. Senate Democrats are told it can’t include immigration issues in its version of a budget reconciliation bill, and Republicans see immigration excesses as a perfect criticism to use in political ads.
We know the basics here: Climate, disasters and violence together are prompting a huge, continuous desire to relocate just to feed families of Central Americans or Haitians or other groups. We need to do more to make it possible to raise crops and leave without violence in those homelands if we want to avoid these huge migration efforts. We need to establish rules leading to U.S. naturalization, fix legal immigration and stop treating migrants as lawbreakers.
How about we just tell all of those Washington pols that sure, they are right, and then demand that they fix what obviously isn’t working.