Border clash shows bipartisan fix needed
The ugly clash this week on the southern border across from Tijuana is not something any reasonable American would want to see repeated. Unless Congress can break through the long stalemate over immigration reform, however, that scene could be replayed over the holiday season.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas explained what is needed when he said, “the best solution would be a bipartisan fix of what’s broken in our immigration system.” He’s right of course, though he followed that reasonable statement with an unnecessary dig at the other party, saying that option has “been rejected out of hand by our Democratic colleagues.”
Actually, it hasn’t, not that either party has stood out on this issue. Democrats and Republicans keep talking past each other on immigration, even though members of both parties have signaled they could support legalization for the “Dreamers” coupled with better border security, even if that isn’t President Donald’s Trump’s notorious border wall.
The skirmish this week with migrants from Central America was almost something that could have been predicted. The migrants have been camped out in Mexico trying to get hearings for asylum in this country, and that process has understandably frustrated many of them. Yet that certainly doesn’t justify them or anyone trying to rush the border or throwing rocks at U.S. Border Patrol employees. In turn, their action caused the Border Patrol to do something it has rarely done — shoot tear gas across the border to disperse the migrants, affecting many women and children who weren’t expecting that tactic.
The longer the migrants wait on the Mexican side, the greater the chance of another unpleasant confrontation. Some migrants are giving up and boarding buses back to Central America, others are determined to grimly hang on and hope for a chance at asylum.
The standoff should reinforce the need for an orderly immigration process, one that blends compassion for people fleeing terrible conditions, while differentiating them from people who want better jobs in this country. Not all of the “economic migrants” can be accepted, even though immigrants have long filled many jobs that American citizens have refused to consider.
Most voters would prefer some kind of compromise in Washington on immigration, and it’s up to members of Congress like Cornyn to work for it even if hardliners in both parties drag their feet. It won’t be easy, and it may not be possible. But the only way to find out is for both sides to reach out and tried to get a bill on President Trump’s desk. The American people deserve to see that effort with the new Congress in 2019.