America can (and should) do better when dealing with immigration

By ED FELSHER,

Politics in America can get really ugly and brutal.  It reached a new level of ugliness and brutality when we began separating parents from their children for reasons related to the politics of immigration. 

Pictures of the separation among these immigrant families conjure up reminders of the separations that occurred among Jewish children and their parents in the Nazi death camps of World War II.

President Trump proposes to build a wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. 

For what purpose? 

A wall is not likely to stop a horde of hungry immigrants desperate for a better life for themselves and their children. Sooner, or later, they will find a way to defeat the wall, by going over, under or around it. 

History shows that to be the case.  A wall, however simple sounding, is not the solution to the problems of coping with the flow of immigrants into America who want only to achieve the human dream of living free from fear and hunger. 

They will just keep on coming. 

Trump exercised extremely poor judgment in deciding erect a Wall along America’s southern border to halt the flow of immigrants into the U.S.  

This is an intolerable waste of financial and human resources.  The decision to construct a Wall was made worse by his decision to rob Defense funds to pay for the Wall.   

This reckless behavior by the president and could have a very damaging effect on the training and combat readiness of America’s armed forces.

Nothing is more vital to America’s safety and security than the well-being and morale of our soldiers, sailors, airman and Marines.

Our political leaders must care for America’s men and women in uniform. 

Anything less is criminal dereliction of duty by America’s highest-level government and political leadership.

Billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars may be spent erecting a wall.  One day it may serve as a tourist attraction and a reminder to the world that the human spirit searching for a better life is unstoppable.  

There is a better way to deal with the immigrant problem than separating families.  Americans are paying millions of dollars yearly in salaries to an army of “experts” and government bureaucrats whose job is to produce solutions to the problems of governing America. 

A nation with the genius to split the atom, send a man to the moon, and lead the world in developing information management technology can certainly muster the will and ability to solve America’s immigrant problem without tearing families apart.

There is, understandably, much rancorous debate at the highest levels of America’s government over what should be U.S. policy regarding immigration. One side to the debate says take a positive approach, open the doors and let them all in, reminding us of the oft-quoted truism that, once upon a time, we Americans were all immigrants.

We should remember that among those immigrants scratching at America’s doors may be a future scientist, doctor, engineer, or architect whose skills might be useful and help in building a better America. 

We may even discover an honest politician among them.  But, that may be asking too much.

The other side to the debate around immigrants says take a more negative approach.  Trust no one, exercise caution and admit only the proven good ones, those who speak English fluently and possess a skill needed in America’s work force.

This view has been supported by the more radical-right of America’s political army and by President Trump himself in a speech delivered on TV to a national audience while campaigning for president. 

Referring to the quality of immigrants coming to the U.S., Trump called them criminals and rapists.   While this may apply to a few of those attempting to cross our border, it certainly is unfair and inaccurate to brand them all in this way.

Years from now, people will stare at the wall and ask, what were they thinking? It just doesn’t make sense.

When people are frightened, they will swallow any scheme that offers protection from the forces that threaten them, like an army of immigrants with their hungry children, who speak a foreign sounding language and look different from”us.”

Nothing in my lifetime has produced a stronger doubt about America’s essential goodness than the sight of children being separated from their mothers in attempting to solve our immigration problem. 

America, we’re better than that. 

It’s time to call upon our better angels to find a solution that doesn’t destroy families.

Felsher, a longtime Hattiesburg resident, is a retired Army officer.