Build­ing walls not the an­swer on im­mi­gra­tion

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

This ap­peared in Dal­las Morn­ing News: The hor­rific death of at least 10 im­mi­grants sneak­ing across Texas this week­end in the back of a trac­tor­trailer rig with no air-con­di­tion­ing is a tragic re­minder of the lengths peo­ple will go to in pur­suit of a bet­ter life. It’s small so­lace that the driver of that rig was ar­rested and charged Mon­day with il­le­gally trans­port­ing the im­mi­grants, nearly three dozen of whom were found in a Wal­mart park­ing lot in San An­to­nio.

The ques­tion we all should pon­der now is this: What can we do to stave off such tragedies, and to shut down sin­is­ter un­der­ground en­ter­prises that ex­ploit a vul­ner­a­ble, yet steady stream of des­per­ate souls?

Telling peo­ple to come into the coun­try legally doesn’t work. Those paths are few. And as the ring­leaders of these hu­man smug­gling rack­ets well know, des­per­ate peo­ple do des­per­ate things.

That’s why we find the rhetoric from Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Pa­trick and other im­mi­gra­tion saber-rat­tlers so trou­bling. Build­ing walls, mass ar­rests, de­por­ta­tions — they are sound bites that play to the get-tough crowd but do lit­tle to ac­tu­ally solve the prob­lem. Yes, bor­der se­cu­rity is im­por­tant. But the lure of a bet­ter life will for­ever tempt those trapped in de­s­pair.

Turn­ing our backs on those flee­ing vi­o­lence or hope­less sit­u­a­tions, as we’ve seen with the refugee cri­sis in Europe, sim­ply shifts the bur­den else­where.

Im­mi­gra­tion courts are clogged. Through Oc­to­ber of last year, there were more than half a mil­lion im­mi­gra­tion cases in the pipe­line and a wait time of up to nearly three years. These are peo­ple try­ing to come here legally.

The con­se­quences are dire: More op­por­tu­ni­ties for hu­man smug­glers to prey on those look­ing for any way out; more peo­ple sneak­ing into the coun­try and liv­ing in the shad­ows. It’s not the Amer­i­can way.

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