Some call it an invasion, others call it human compassion. Either way, the migrant caravan has thoroughly divided our country.
Since early April, some 7,000 to 10,000 immigrants from South and Central America have trekked thousands of miles in hopes of reaching the U.S. Their goal is to claim asylum.
Asylum in the United States can be claimed by refugees escaping danger and persecution in their homeland. Once granted, asylum serves as a form of political protection, and grants immigrants access to federally-funded resources.
It’s not that President Donald Trump and his supporters don’t want these people in the country. Conservatives’ main desire is that everyone has access to the American Dream. They also demand, however, that measures are taken in order to ensure dangerous people are not permitted into the country.
The southern border of the U.S. has been a hotly contested topic since Trump took office. He pledged that he would secure our borders and enforce the rule of law regarding immigration.
Now as that very same border is being tested by a massive wave of immigrants, Trump has sent hundreds of military members to the border. In a robust show of force, Trump reminded the country of his administration’s stance on illegal immigration.
On Nov. 27, Trump permitted the use of teargas to be used against members of the caravan. Border agents expressed that the gas was only deployed in retaliation to persistent rock attacks instigated by immigrants from the Mexican side of the border.
Trump has taken harsh criticism for his authorization of the teargas. Let us not forget however that President Barack Obama authorized the use of this very same teargas 79 times over four years of his presidency.
The caravan remains so divisive within the American public as it threatens our innate sense of nationalism. Unfortunately, Trump opposers have misconstrued nationalism to mean white supremacy. Critics mistakenly equate strong border security with exclusion and isolation.
Supporters of the caravan frequently point to Ellis Island, the immigration hub to the eastern U.S. in the early 20th century. According to history.com, “More than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954—with a whopping 1,004,756 entering the U.S. in 1907 alone.”
If it could be done there and then, why can’t it be done here and now? The sad, short answer is that politics won’t allow it.
A feasible solution to this sudden influx of immigrants is the same as it has always been. As it was at Ellis Island, every single individual that wishes to cross our borders must be identified. Too often, violent gang members and cartel mules use mass migration for nefarious tactics.
Adequate vetting and documentation are necessary in order to keep citizens and immigrants safe. We must be able to know if those seeking asylum are truly fleeing violent oppression, or simply attempting to bypass immigration law.
An unintended consequence of the caravan is that it is forcing Congress to examine an antiquated immigration system. Hopefully by directing enough focus on the issue, lawmakers will be forced to take action.
It is possible to support legal immigration and demand a secure border for our country. As former President Ronald Reagan told us, “A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.” Should we fail to enforce the rule of law and legal immigration at our borders, then we fail as a nation in upholding the ideals enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
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