Protection at the border is a two-way street
While I can find common ground with President Trump on several fronts, his drastic actions since taking office to severely restrict the number of newcomers to our nation — be they refugees, immigrants, asylees or any other category of persons seeking a place of peace and safety among us — are a disgrace and a repudiation of our nation’s long history of welcome.
Lest I be accused of being an open border advocate, I strongly believe any nation has the right and obligation to protect its sovereignty and security. I also strongly believe those who are compelled by circumstances to flee their countries should be afforded due process and given the opportu- nity to seek protection under national and international law. When one hears of asylum seekers to the U.S. summarily denied this protection and refugee admissions reduced to a trickle, the president needs to be called out and those policies challenged.
Oppressed, impoverished and persecuted people around the world don’t just wake up one day and decide on a spur of the moment to make the perilous journey to the United States. Most of our own ancestors made that same difficult decision they do, likely never to see their extended family again. And no, they weren’t admitted based on merit, as some favor today. Otherwise, it’s very likely most of them would have never been allowed in, being as they were the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” that our Statue of Liberty beckons. Like today, they were largely disdained by the people already here.
These fellow members of our human family are, by definition, survivors and the very kind of people we want to continue the great American experiment. Family reunification, derisively called chain migration by some, has always been the bedrock of our immigration system and has served our nation very well over the past 100 years or more. These families have spawned some of the greatest persons and achievements that humanity has ever witnessed and contin-
ue to do so to the present day.
I find it very ironic that a president who prides himself on being an astute businessman fails to see how a very generous immigration and refugee admissions policy is in the best interest of the U.S., both nationally and internationally. His huge protectionist blindspot prevents him from seeing that in a rapidly expanding economy like ours we need many more workers at all levels, not fewer. He’s getting very bad advice from the likes of Stephen Miller and his zero-population growth comrades who won’t be satisfied until the U.S. has effectively isolated itself from the rest of the world.
Demographers have pointed to the folly of this thinking and shown that nations that fall below replacement in terms of their population are doomed
to fail. Europe has been in that death spiral for a while now and the U.S. has until now avoided that fate because of its historically generous immigration policies, but just barely. If we want a fully-funded Social Security and Medicare system, especially as the baby boomers are reaching full retirement age in large numbers, then newcomers should be welcomed with open arms. Why would we turn our backs on a course that has served us so well for so long?
As we enter the season of Advent and celebrate Christmas in a few short weeks, may we reflect on the migrant journey of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and find a warm place in our hearts for those who follow a similar path in our time.