Sometimes, friends, I don’t know the right answer. Wait. Let me correct that. Many times I don’t know the right answer. Sure, we each have opinions, and those opinions are based on info, insight, experience, research and more. But that doesn’t make us right. I’m thinking we need to remember that a little more, as it might affect the way we interact with one another. (Maybe…)
As I wrestle with not knowing what’s right, no less, the Intramuralist, like many, is watching the immigrants move toward America.
First, what we know…
Thousands of Central American immigrants are walking toward the southern U.S. border. We cannot tell who exactly makes up the crowd. Were they organized by someone intentionally? … three weeks before the election? Are there criminals in the crowd? None of this we know with certainty, although pundits and media seem to suggest an “all or nothing” approach, pending partisan leaning.
The group originated in Honduras and is now growing in Mexico. According to Time Magazine, the immigrants said they “gave up trying to enter Mexico legally because the asylum application process was too slow.” So they entered illegally.
Pres. Trump is tweeting about the situation (shocking).
According to State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert, “The Mexican Government is fully engaged in finding a solution that encourages safe, secure, and orderly migration, and both the United States and Mexico continue to work with Central American governments to address the economic, security, and governance drivers of illegal immigration.”
Assuming, therefore, that the immigrants’ intent is to flood the border with masses — gaining access to the United States and making it more difficult to send back to their home country — this immigration approach is illegal.
So what’s the right thing to do?
Friends, I wish I could hide behind some easy answer, but frankly, I find the political talking points too extreme, interfering, and too intentionally crafted in order to divide us more. Too many are utilize ways and words with the upcoming election in mind, and too many of us adopt those divisive answers. Let’s get rid of those. Instead, let’s ask…
What’s the right thing to do?
Where do compassion and illegality meet?
Open borders doesn’t seem the answer, as that ignores the very real threat of terrorists and drug cartels.
Abolishing ICE doesn’t seem the answer, as dismantling the border enforcement agency also ignores those with the intent to destroy us.
Rejecting all immigrants seems not the answer either, as such is inconsistent with our admired, historical acceptance of the tired and poor, yearning to be free.
And so we ask…
How can we craft an approach that is efficient, compassionate, and wise?
Do we need to first note the difference between migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers? Are they the same? And truly, who are those in the current crowd?
While the words are often used interchangeably in regard to the current crisis, the three terms have distinct meanings, albeit with some overlap — overlap that may influence both our compassion and approach.
A “migrant” is simply one who moves from one place to another in order to live in another country for more than a year. Often termed an “economic migrant,” this is typically one who seeks work or a “better life,” but this could also be an international student. It could be a mixture of many factors.
A “refugee” is one who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster, and is considered in need of international protection because circumstances in their home country are considered too dangerous to return at this time.
An “asylum seeker” is one who crosses into another country due to fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, social group, or political opinion, hoping to be granted refugee status.
So who are those that are currently caravanning north? Is it a mixed group? Are they fearing for their lives? Those answers matter.
As I said at the onset of this post, the Intramuralist does not know the exact right thing to do. But it would seem both logical and compassionate — and let’s be clear — compassion means to consider both those who wish to enter and those who already live here — to incorporate the following:
Recognize the reality of terrorists and drug cartels and thus the dangers of a porous border.
Evaluate the economic affects and who can and should pay for what — corporately and individually. What is appropriate and possible? Both questions are priority.
Discern the difference between a migrant, refugee, and asylum seeker, and thus how compassion is made manifest with each.
And to the media, pundits, politicians, any current caravan organizers, and political side pickers, know that each life matters — immigrants and American citizens. Hence, let’s not use any life as an election tool, but instead respectfully work to solve both the short term problem and long term issue.