- - Wednesday, October 24, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

‘Yes they can,” but no they won’t.

For several weeks, a band of several thousand Honduran migrants have been traveling north with the stated goal of reaching the United States.

Republicans have seized on the reckless disregard for American laws that the caravan represents.

As a Catholic, I am sensitive to the requirement that we must help the least of us, and like many American families, ours supports various charitable organizations in their important missions.

I do not doubt that many of these Honduran citizens are living in desperate poverty and would love to live in America.

But we must be a nation of laws.

For far too long, both political parties have been willing to accept a blatant disregard for existing immigration laws.

President Trump promised to end illegal immigration and he has methodically worked to do so — without much help from Congress.

This should be a nonpartisan issue.

How can anyone believe illegal immigration is good for the country?

We need to know who is entering the country and we should be able to determine what process is used for legal immigration.

It is undeniable that Congress has failed to meaningfully reform our broken immigration system.

But that is no excuse for thousands of migrants to flaunt our laws and sovereignty by attempting to overrun either our ports of entry when they make asylum claims or our porous border when they attempt to illegally enter.

Although it would be a bold step, President Trump is right to consider military options to secure the southern border from a mass invasion. If Congress won’t do the job, President Trump will.

There is a correct way for these migrants to do this. They should show up at a port of entry and make a lawful asylum claim. There are limits on how many we can accept, and claimants must meet certain criteria. They can also begin this process at any U.S. consulate overseas.

In recent months, there have been reports of individuals showing up at ports of entry, not being immediately approved or served, then entering illegally and making an asylum claim once arrested. That is not the correct way to claim asylum and existing laws require deportation orders in these cases.

The caravan story has become a global media sensation and has dominated U.S. news coverage for much of this week.

Republicans know what they believe on this issue. They want to increase border security spending by at least $5 billion by the end of the year and there is nearly unanimous Republican support for building the wall in the urban areas initially. Republicans also want to reform the existing immigration system by moving away from chain migration and moving toward a merit-based system like what the U.K., Canada and Australia utilize. This is a coherent set of policy views.

Can anyone cite the Democratic Party view on the caravan?

Should these thousands of Honduran migrants be allowed to cross illegally? Should their asylum claims be approved en masse? Is simply wanting a better life enough of a reason to allow someone to become an American?

Immigration has been a wonderful thing for America throughout our history. As is often said, we are all children of immigrants.

But that does not mean that the immigration system we used in the 1930s should be the same that we use today.

We have a rapidly growing country. We have a hollowed middle class. Until President Trump was elected, wages had been flat for more than a decade. We need skilled labor and workers in specific fields. We want assimilation from the immigrants who come here.

Call me a cynic, but a caravan charging north cannot be fleeing oppression and poverty while also proudly holding up the flag of their native country. It can be one or the other, but not both.

Many people are interested in how such a caravan operates. Where does their logistical support come from? Who funds the effort? Why would Mexico allow them to enter through their southern border after initially saying they wouldn’t? These questions need answers. I hope American journalists try to find these answers.

America is a compassionate and good-hearted country. We are a generous people.

But we cannot allow thousands of economic migrants to break into the country whenever they feel like it.

The medical, educational, and social service costs alone should make this an easy decision.

It is entirely clear that Republicans will stand up for security and the rule of law.

Where are Democrats on this issue?

• Matt Mackowiak is president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group. He’s a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators.


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