President Donald Trump formally made his pitch to the American people for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border Tuesday night. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave the Democratic response. And the stalemate continues. Meanwhile, the government shutdown nears its fourth week, and millions of federal employees will start dealing with bills that are coming due and no paychecks to cover them.
The impasse is creating a real crisis for those government workers who don’t have money saved, resources to sell or access to loans until their payments resume. But the hyperbole surrounding the impasse threatens to damage both parties by painting them as obstinate flamethrowers who don’t mind imposing difficulties on their own constituents even as they continue drawing their own paychecks.
Trump changed his anti-immigrant rhetoric Tuesday, presenting the gathering of asylum-seekers collecting at our border crossings as “a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.” He did, however, repeat his inference of immigrants as criminals, relating violent crimes that some have committed, apparently to instill fear in the public that might raise support for his proposed barricade.
But the facts tell a different story. Despite all the rhetoric, they come. From north and south, from within and without, they come.
If reaching our border and seeking entry into our country created such a crisis, they wouldn’t come. Parents wouldn’t endure the trials and risks involved in the thousand-mile trek to get here — much less put their small children through such an ordeal. But they come, lured here by the belief that the chance to build a new life in this country, and escape the difficulties of their homelands, will be worth the trouble.
And any belief that immigrants make our country any more dangerous surely would scare other Americans from coming to border areas like the Rio Grande Valley. But they come. Older Americans, our Winter Texans, leave the colder climes up north to enjoy our more inviting weather. Younger Americans stream to our beaches on weekends and during Spring Break to catch a few rays and a few waves. Nature lovers are lured by the chance to see unique birds and wildlife that can only be seen here. And, increasingly, business investors come to take advantage of the abundance of land, natural resources and available labor, creating gas facilities, wind farms and even rocket launch pads.
Most likely, they’re encouraged by the government’s own reports that consistently show border crime rates are lower than most other parts of the country.
The president’s remarks held a nugget that might not bring a final solution to the current debate but could offer a way to restart negotiations. He talked of a border security plan that went beyond the current wall that everyone’s currently beating their heads against. Trump also spoke of more staffing, new technology, more medical support for detention centers and, most importantly, more immigration judges to help ease the backlog of immigration visa requests and reduce the incentive for foreign nationals to bypass our legal immigration system and take their chances at living here without permission. Surely both sides can agree to begin addressing those border provisions and show the American people that they’re willing to do what they’re elected to do: negotiate solutions to federal problems.
The bargaining table awaits. Will they come?