Immigration Mess - The Missourian: Opinion

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Immigration Mess

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Posted: Saturday, July 12, 2014 6:00 pm | Updated: 12:48 pm, Thu Oct 23, 2014.

The immigration crisis is not new. It just has gotten worse. The president and Congress are about to throw more money at the situation as an emergency measure due to the thousands of children and adults who have been crossing our southern border.

President Barack Obama has asked Congress to approve $3.7 billion in emergency funds to deal with the crisis. What’s the plan? How will the money be spent?

The funding is proposed to go toward hiring more immigration judges and asylum officers, building more detention facilities, boosting deterrence and enforcement and increasing surveillance along the border with Mexico. Included also is funding for overtime pay for Border Patrol agents and aid to help Central American countries repatriate the people returned by the United States.

A major problem is facilities to hold the immigrants while their return is being processed.

Why this acceleration of children and adults from Mexico and Central America entering America? There is a report that word circulated south of our border that immigrants would be welcomed, and conditions in some of the countries where the immigrants are coming from motivated them to head north for safety reasons. The president said our nation needed to address “this urgent humanitarian situation.”

There is no doubt that something needs to be done. We need a permanent and firm policy. Not enough has been done to stem the tide of immigrants. Compassion in caring for the border crossers, the feeling that some immigrants should be allowed to stay for safety and moral reasons, concern that if the money is appropriated other cuts in needed programs will be made, the political climate — all of this surrounds the decision center.

Immigration policy changes have been blowing in the political winds for years. If there’s ever been a political football that has been punted time and time again, it is immigration reforms. Congress appears to be incapable of reaching agreement. There’s been and continues to be plenty of talk, but no real meaningful actions.

Compounding the issue now is that families with children and other young people on their own have been crossing the border by the thousands. Control seems to have disappeared. What is needed is an immigration czar with authority to manage crises such as we have now, who would have available resources from the federal government, including our military if needed, to seal the border, and take control until Congress and the president agree on reforms and a firm policy to follow for the future. It would be a tough mission because of the length of the border.

The first priority should be to use all available resources to take control of the border until some sort of quota program can be worked out. In the meantime, the immigrants who are here should be processed as quickly as possible and determine how many can stay. To accomplish this, leadership is needed by the president and Congress.

This issue raises a much bigger question. Since the leadership can’t handle this situation, would it be able to respond to a major threat to the country?

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