The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Problem Solver

In South Florida, virtually everyone comes into daily contact with recent immigrants to the United States. The vast majority are from Latin America, but many others started in the Caribbean Islands with smaller numbers from Europe and Asia. Whether legal or illegal, the  vast majority of immigrants are hardworking contributors to our local economy.

Observing immigrants every day, I have great sympathy for the struggles of a stranger in a strange land. The courage it takes to make the move is outweighed by the fortitude to make one's way in a different culture, using a different language, with many economic obstacles (at least at the beginning).

I personally know a Cuban neurosurgeon, a Colombian accountant and a Brazilian lawyer who are working menial jobs while they try to establish themselves in the United States. All came to the United States legally, and all have absolutely no guarantee that they'll do what they did in their homeland. But still, they came.

I suspect that among the millions of "undocumented" aliens (as if that politically correct phrase in any way changes the fact that they are here in violation of the law) there are many who will follow a path to prosperity.

But our borders cannot be open—it's unfair to those who came here legally. It's also unfair to ask the taxpayer to support (with education, medical care, and human services) an onslaught of immigrants crossing a porous border.

Now tens of thousand of children, often unaccompanied, are crossing the border illegally. Why? Because this administration did nothing two years ago when they were warned that the child immigration was accelerating dangerously. Thousands became tens of thousands, all in need of assistance, all desperate, all tragic.

With a different, less ideological president—a president who reached across the aisle, a president who genuinely wants to solve the problem,I'm convinced we would be much closer to bi-partisan immigration reform. But Barack Obama is not that kind of president.

Peggy Noonan
uses a compelling metaphor to describe what's happening:
It's like you live in a house that's falling apart. The roof needs to be patched and there are squirrels in the attic, a hornet's nest in the eaves. The basement's wet. The walkway to the front door is cracked with grass growing through it. The old boiler is making funny sounds. On top of that it's always on your mind that you could lose your job tomorrow and must live within strict confines so you can meet the mortgage and pay the electric bill. You can't keep the place up and you're equal parts anxious, ashamed and angry. And then one morning you look outside and see . . . all these people standing on your property, looking at you, making some mute demand. Little children looking lost—no one's taking care of them. Older ones settling in the garage, or working a window to the cellar. You call the cops. At first they don't come. Then they come and shout through a bull horn and take some of the kids and put them in a shelter a few blocks away. But more kids keep coming! You call your alderman and he says there's nothing he can do. Then he says wait, we're going to pass a bill and get more money to handle the crisis. You ask, "Does that mean the kids will go home?" He says no, but it may make things feel more orderly. You call the local TV station and they come do a report on your stoop and then they're gone, because really, what can they do, and after a few days it's getting to be an old story.

No one's in charge! No one is taking responsibility. No one who wants to help has authority, and no one with authority is helping.
Barack Obama is, for better or worse (mostly), President of the United States. He should be in charge. And yet, this week he went to Texas for fundraisers, not to begin to developing a bipartisan solution to this serious immigration problem.

Karl Rove, certainly no friend of this president, comments:
Fundraisers are a priority for this president—he has attended 393 fundraisers since taking office, according to CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller, compared with George W. Bush's 216 at the same point in his presidency. What is not a priority [while Obama visits Texas] for 3 fundraisers is visiting South Texas to see the tragedy unfolding from a wave of illegal immigrants, many unaccompanied children.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says he doesn't need to visit the border "simply because the president is very aware of the situation." Mr. Obama is mistaken if he thinks he would not benefit from meeting with state and local officials and community leaders there.

He is clueless if he doesn't realize his 2012 order halting the deportation of some young illegal immigrants sent a powerful message throughout Central America: If you got your children to the U.S., they are likely to stay.

Mr. Obama also seems oblivious to the value of being seen on the Rio Grande, warning Central American parents not to send their children north because if they survive the dangerous, expensive journey, they will only be caught and returned home.
It would seem that this is a perfect opportunity for Obama to work with congress to (1) better enforce the borders and (2) develop a legal mechanism for absorbing those who are "undocumented." But (2) can only happen after (1) has been accomplished. Otherwise, we'll experience an onslaught of immigrants (including tens of thousands of unaccompanied children) that will tax our resources to the breaking point.

Barack Obama sees it differently. He sees immigration as a wedge issue and therefore demands (2) before (1), knowing full well that any responsible legislation is doomed if the border is unsecured. That's a disservice to the many good illegal immigrants who need a pathway to a better life, but it provides still another opportunity to demonize his opposition rather than attempting to solve pressing national problems.

Sadly, Barack Obama is not a problem solver, never was, never will be.