Pro­tect­ing Amer­ica’s na­tional home

Why a wall must be erected with at­ten­tion to na­tional se­cu­rity and the law

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Tony Perkins

Im­mi­gra­tion has been in­grained in the Amer­i­can con­scious­ness from our ear­li­est days, as many peo­ple left for­eign lands to make a new life here. While Pres­i­dent Trump did not in­vent the con­cept of mak­ing Amer­ica great, his call for pro­tect­ing that great­ness stands in sharp con­trast to those who see noth­ing special in our na­tion at all. But when you con­sider that so many have come to­gether to make this place their home, a wall with a door that opens to those we want in not only makes sense, it’s pur­pose is clear.

From kings to Congress to our coun­try­men and women na­tion­wide, most of us live be­hind the safety of doors. Some­times we even pass through se­cu­rity, pro­vide iden­ti­fi­ca­tion for ac­cess and sign in at a front desk. This process en­sures that all those in­side the walls of our schools, busi­nesses or halls of govern­ment should be there, are safe and can ac­com­plish the pur­pose that brought them in.

Walls pro­tect those in­side our na­tional home and en­sure that we can peace­fully live our lives to­gether. When some­one has no home and lives out­side that pro­tec­tion, we work to help. Hav­ing been of­ten on tele­vi­sion, I can tell you that it’s not easy to get into a tele­vi­sion stu­dio, mak­ing it rather ironic that those loudly de­nounc­ing the idea of a wall around our na­tional home do so be­hind closed doors, safe and se­cure.

I con­sider the desire of so many peo­ple to live here a great com­pli­ment to Amer­ica. But what made Amer­ica great? It is the rule of law that makes eco­nomic and cul­tural sta­bil­ity pos­si­ble and that con­tin­ues to make Amer­ica at­trac­tive to the hud­dled masses yearn­ing to be free.

There are many places in the world where the rule of law is frag­ile at best, it il­lus­trates what we stand to lose — the abil­ity to cre­ate a safe place for those who come here. We need to re­spect the rule of law and em­brace new cit­i­zens in such a way as to wel­come them into a place where all can pros­per.

With a pop­u­la­tion the size of Pitts­burgh pour­ing through our gates ev­ery year, this is no longer a par­ti­san is­sue; it’s a sovereignty is­sue. Pres­i­dent Trump strongly be­lieves, and I agree, that it’s time to take our bor­der se­cu­rity se­ri­ously, not be­cause we don’t care what hap­pens to other peo­ple, but be­cause we care that Amer­i­can ex­cep­tion­al­ism can safely be of­fered to all who step in­side our na­tional home.

It’s not com­pas­sion­ate to turn a blind eye to the dan­ger posed by some who en­ter with the in­tent to harm us. It’s not com­pas­sion­ate to have a hid­den so­ci­ety where peo­ple can’t en­gage in the Amer­i­can dream in the light of day. It’s not com­pas­sion­ate to use chil­dren as a hu­man shield to in­fil­trate the coun­try or to separate ac­tual fam­i­lies in need, some­thing that needs to be de­ter­mined with a le­gal process that pro­tects all.

As I said in a re­cent con­ver­sa­tion on im­mi­gra­tion is­sues with CNN’s Chris­tiane Aman­pour, I’ve been work­ing with a team of pas­tors on how to help keep fam­i­lies to­gether when they cross our bor­der. It’s a con­ver­sa­tion that we need to have as a peo­ple and with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. But the prob­lem on the is­sue of im­mi­gra­tion is that we are rarely hav­ing conversations as a peo­ple. We’re not talk­ing over each other; we are shout­ing over each other at a time when Amer­ica needs a civil, re­spect­ful con­ver­sa­tion about how best to help those in need at home and abroad.

Some in the me­dia have been out­raged over at­tempts to se­cure our na­tion’s bor­der, but this is not a new prob­lem. Pres­i­dents Bush and Obama both sent Na­tional Guard troops to the bor­der to deal with ev­ery­thing from drug smug­gling to im­mi­gra­tion. This pres­i­dent un­der­stands, as they did, that Amer­ica is in a cri­sis sit­u­a­tion.

A con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate of il­le­gal im­mi­grants in the United States is al­most 11 mil­lion; that’s more than the pop­u­la­tion of the state of Ge­or­gia. In fact, a re­cent study by Yale Uni­ver­sity and the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy found the num­ber could be dou­ble that es­ti­mate. We can’t con­tinue to stand by while any­one — whether born here or trav­el­ing here — vi­o­lates our laws and helps oth­ers do the same. It’s time to stop ig­nor­ing il­le­gal be­hav­ior, which is un­der­min­ing the rule of law — the mor­tar that hold the bricks of democ­racy to­gether.

Our na­tional home needs a wall with a door that opens to peo­ple who don’t en­dan­ger those in­side. Fail­ure to pre­serve the rule of law, which re­quires difficult de­ci­sions, will ac­tu­ally lead to the de­struc­tion of what makes Amer­ica great and there­fore at­trac­tive.

Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan dis­cussed the is­sue of im­mi­gra­tion and the need for strong eco­nomic pol­icy in a La­bor Day speech in 1980, with the Statue of Lib­erty soar­ing be­hind him. He called for “a re­newed ded­i­ca­tion to the dream of Amer­ica — an ad­min­is­tra­tion that will give that dream new life and make Amer­ica great again!”

Mak­ing Amer­ica great is not a talk­ing point. It’s a call to ac­tion, and we need to make the hard choices nec­es­sary to keep it great for the next gen­er­a­tion of cit­i­zens, born or nat­u­ral­ized, but all de­serv­ing of our best. Let’s build the wall and then open the door to those who want to join in the life of this great na­tion. Tony Perkins is pres­i­dent of the Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY LINAS GARSYS/THE WASH­ING­TON TIMES

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