Yes, build the wall!

The Buffalo News - - OPINION - Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group Ken­more

WASH­ING­TON – It’s time to build the wall – and, in do­ing so, pre­vent an es­ti­mated 690,000 DACA “dream­ers” from be­ing de­ported from the United States. It’s a fair deal that could be scut­tled only by in­tense and self-serv­ing par­ti­san­ship from the White House and the Re­pub­li­can and Demo­cratic con­gres­sional lead­er­ship.

As al­most ev­ery­one knows by now, DACA stands for “De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Arrivals,” a pro­gram cre­ated in 2012 by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama that Pres­i­dent Trump says he wants to undo. Be­cause the ben­e­fi­cia­ries were brought il­le­gally to the United States as chil­dren by their par­ents, it’s hard to make a case that they should be pun­ished. As a prac­ti­cal mat­ter, most have grown up as Amer­i­cans. They have few roots in their coun­try of birth.

A deal seemed within reach af­ter Pres­i­dent Trump and Sen­ate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., agreed to ne­go­ti­ate. But now prospects seem to be fad­ing, be­cause the White House is in­sist­ing that build­ing the border wall be part of the pack­age – and Schumer and Pelosi say, no way.

If Trump is go­ing to save the dream­ers – re­pu­di­at­ing a cam­paign prom­ise that he would end the pro­gram – he needs some­thing big in re­turn. This could be the wall. Schumer and Pelosi’s no­tion of com­pro­mise is hardly any com­pro­mise at all. Their po­si­tion is: Be rea­son­able, do it our way.

Full dis­clo­sure: I have been a sup­porter of the wall for some years, pre­dat­ing Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. I jus­tify this on three grounds.

First, I think it would re­duce – though not elim­i­nate – il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. It would be harder to cross the border; some wouldn’t try.

Sec­ond, the wall would sym­bol­ize a ma­jor shift in U.S. im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy – a tougher at­ti­tude – that would de­ter some from cross­ing the border il­le­gally and, more im­por­tant, jus­tify leg­is­la­tion re­quir­ing em­ploy­ers to ver­ify work­ers’ im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus be­fore be­ing hired.

Fi­nally, the wall is re­quired as a po­lit­i­cal act of good faith to im­mi­gra­tion op­po­nents. They be­lieve the wall would be ef­fec­tive, and the only way to prove – or dis­prove – th­ese claims would be to try it. I know and re­spect many crit­ics of the wall who be­lieve it would be a waste of time and money. They could be right, and I could be wrong, but the only way to find out is to build it.

That’s my case for the wall. True, it would be costly. One com­mon es­ti­mate is $25 bil­lion. Still, even this amount is a round­ing er­ror in a $4 tril­lion fed­eral bud­get. The price would be tiny if the re­sult pro­tects the “dream­ers” and in­spires real bar­gain­ing on many im­mi­gra­tion is­sues: sanc­tu­ary cities, fam­ily pref­er­ences and a path to cit­i­zen­ship, among oth­ers.

Com­pro­mise in­volves giv­ing up things you want and ac­cept­ing things you don’t want for a re­sult that, de­spite its de­fects, leaves you bet­ter off than when you started. In that sense, a grand com­pro­mise on im­mi­gra­tion is con­ceiv­able. The open ques­tion is whether both sides are will­ing to com­pro­mise – and to­day’s agen­das are sim­ply ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tions – or whether they pre­fer end­less po­lit­i­cal the­ater.

Robert Sa­muel­son Con­sti­tu­tional con­ven­tion could open Pan­dora’s box

New York­ers will have the op­por­tu­nity to vote next month on whether or not they would like to have a state con­sti­tu­tional con­ven­tion. This is an im­por­tant de­ci­sion that could dra­mat­i­cally change agri­cul­ture as we know it.

New York Farm Bu­reau has long val­ued in­di­vid­ual rights and lim­its on gov­ern­men­tal power. Del­e­gates could di­min­ish both of th­ese pri­or­i­ties at a con­sti­tu­tional con­ven­tion.

A ma­jor­ity of the del­e­gates would be from New York City. New York Farm Bu­reau is con­cerned they would be un­fa­mil­iar with agri­cul­ture and our ru­ral way of life. Why cede con­trol from our elected of­fi­cials to ran­dom con­ven­tion del­e­gates who have their own agen­das, philoso­phies or axes to grind? Changes made at the con­ven­tion could al­ter pri­vate prop­erty rights, la­bor laws, agri­cul­tural land use and con­ser­va­tion man­age­ment. A Pan­dora’s box is wait­ing to be opened.

In ad­di­tion, it could cost tax­pay­ers hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars.

It’s Trump who dis­re­spects our coun­try’s brave he­roes

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence walked out of the Colts and 49ers foot­ball game af­ter sev­eral 49ers play­ers knelt dur­ing the na­tional an­them. Pence stated he wouldn’t dig­nify any event that dis­re­spected our sol­diers, our flag or our na­tional an­them. Yet the vice pres­i­dent has no prob­lem be­ing a bob­ble-headed “yes man” for Pres­i­dent Trump, the dis­re­specter in chief of our sol­diers and our flag.

Ap­par­ently Pence has con­ve­niently for­got­ten that it was Trump who be­smirched ev­ery man who has ever worn the uni­form when he said that Sen. John Mc­Cain was not a war hero and that Trump liked peo­ple who weren’t cap­tured. It was Trump who be­lit­tled the Gold Star fam­ily of Capt. Hu­mayun Khan, a Mus­lim U.S. sol­dier who gave his life fight­ing for our coun­try in Iraq.

Pence is noth­ing more than a snivel­ing hyp­ocrite and un­wor­thy of our re­spect un­til such day he shows the guts to stand up to that dis­grace of a pres­i­dent, Trump.

Richard W. Kirisits

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