Spoiler Alert

In his latest piece at TownHallTony Katz makes the case that the U.S. is in a de facto war with Mexico.  I don’t think I disagree about that.  I’m a huge fan of Tony’s, and I’m not trying to bash him or contradict what he’s saying.  I’m just curious about the things he focuses on after he makes his case.

Tony focuses on the ‘free things’ magnet, the idea that thousands of people come to the U.S. illegally each year, drawn by things like food stamps, social security, and health care.  Tony also mentions that the immigration wave has been driven by people who want to harm the U.S. by eroding our standards.  I have no doubt that destabilizing the U.S. would make quite a lot of people in power around the world quite happy.  It would certainly appear to be on the agenda for some of our leaders in D.C. as well.

I can’t fault immigrants from trying their hardest to get here from some of the horrible places they’re leaving behind.  I can imagine what it must be like, with bad economies and corrupt governments and violence often commonplace.  If I lived there, I’d be doing everything I could to get to the U.S. myself; if not for me, for my children.

At the same time, borders are important to a country, if only for the primary reason that the laws are different from place to place.  Borders between East and West Germany during the Cold War, and borders between North and South Korea ever since then, illustrate vividly why borders matter.

And THAT’S the problem I have with Tony’s piece.  Maybe it doesn’t go to the heart of the issue for me.

Tony says: ‘America must end the free flow of earned dollars to those who did not earn it; we must tell those who try to invade, “No. You get nothing.”’

But whose responsibility is it to say that?  For that matter, whose responsibility is it to protect the border?  It’s the federal government’s job.  Yet they do not.  If the U.S. is at war with Mexico, our government must have already surrendered.

And when an administration decides that they would prefer not to enforce particular laws because it benefits them politically, it leaves us nearly powerless to correct.  I’m sure Tony means that the federal government – ICE, the Attorney General, The Border Patrol, Health and Human Services – should be the ones saying ‘No.’  But they will not.

It may seem simplistic, but it reminds me of parents and grandparents.  If the parents (the American people) say ‘NO’ and the grandparents (the federal government) say ‘YES’, and the grandparents are in charge, there isn’t much the parents can do about it.  Except not leave the grandparents in charge anymore.

And that’s where we failed.  We put the same indulgent, open-handed (with our money!) grandparents in charge, with their old-fashioned ways (twentieth-century progressive politics).  We have to decide not to put them in charge anymore, and take the place of authority again.

What we’re doing instead is blaming the child for the grandparents’ open hand.  Focusing on the immigrants as the problem keeps us from focusing on the real problem – that many of our elected officials have no intention of changing how immigration is handled.  Rather than focus on ways to stop the exploitation and abuse these people face, as well as stop the strain put on our nation’s resources, they’re content to punt and posture.  Again, we have to put people in charge who will respect and enforce our laws, and who will work to solve problems rather than create them.

And we only do that by winning elections.  And THAT is only done by out-working, out-thinking, out-messaging, and outnumbering those indulgent grandparents.

Join us Tuesday July 8th at 9:30 Eastern at The Refinery where I’m sure we’ll have a lot more to say about immigration and Tony’s piece.


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