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Roemer: Time to stop the political border fight and find solutions to this dysfunction | COMMENTARY

Politicians who use immigration as a wedge issue are using the most vulnerable people in our hemisphere as pawns to advance their own political agenda. This country’s immigration laws and systems are as dysfunctional as can be — and I really don’t care who’s to blame. I just want the problem fixed.

To do that, three things need to happen. Secure the border, deal compassionately with the people who are already here, and do what we can to improve living conditions in Central America.

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Undocumented immigrants who are in the country are here to stay. Maybe you don’t like that, maybe you don’t think it’s right or fair, but that ship has sailed. Serious criminals need to go, but this country is simply not going to round up and deport the millions of others who are already our neighbors. We need to accept that fact, treat these individuals with respect and dignity, give them a path to citizenship, and begin to see them as Americans.

At the same time, we need to secure the border, and update our immigration laws to meet the needs of the 21st century. Once passed, those laws need to be enforced with fidelity.

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I don’t care if the border is secured with a wall, a fence, electronic monitoring, or the Swiss Guard. It needs to be made exceedingly difficult to enter this country illegally or under false pretenses.

If we made everyone who is in the country illegally a citizen tomorrow, but fail to secure the border, we’d be right back where we are now in the blink of an eye.

Third, we need to do what we can to improve economic conditions in Central America. It is in our own best interest to do so. And it has to be done in a way that has a lasting impact on the standard of living for the citizens in those countries. Whatever assistance we provide needs to be contingent on those countries effectively policing their own borders, and sent in a way that it doesn’t end up in the pockets of corrupt government officials. Further, we need to recognize that whatever we do to help is not going to produce instant results. It’s going to take years to make any substantial progress.

In the meantime, the rate at which immigrants are arriving at the border is beyond unsustainable. Just housing unaccompanied minors is costing taxpayers $60 million a week. Once here, children and adults alike qualify for long-term benefits made available to them through the welfare system. We simply cannot afford to financially support everyone in the world who has somehow made it to the southern border and would like to live in the United States, but that’s the message we’re sending, and when we do, people come, even though it means they must endure the unendurable to get here.

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Illicit drugs are pouring across the border. Those seeking to do Americans harm are among those crossing into the country? The rate of infection from COVID-19 among migrants is far higher than it is among U.S. citizens.

I’m tired of the all posturing and finger pointing; tired of seeing kids in cages lying on the floor wrapped in foil blankets; tired of the cartels’ heartless profiteering, making millions on the backs of desperate people; tired of young Americans dying from fentanyl and other drugs smuggled into the country; tired of woman and young girls being raped and sold into sexual slavery because our politicians want the issue, not the solution; and tired of sanctuary cities that flout the law. When we ignore the law because we don’t like it, we are planting the seeds of lawlessness many of those coming here from Central America are attempting to flee.

Every year the dysfunction gets worse because people on either end of the political spectrum refuse to allow their elected officials to seek a compromise solution. If these politicians even hint they are willing to compromise, they’re labeled a “traitor to the cause” and we threaten to throw them out of office. In that sense, we are all to blame for this tragedy. Every death, every rape, every traumatized child, every overdosed teenager, every American killed by a MS 13 gang member. We must allow our elected officials to find a comprehensive solution, but too many of us are content simply to blame the other party for the problem.

How many pictures do we need to see of toddlers being dropped from a 14-foot wall before we act? How many terrified little boys wandering alone hoping someone will help them will be enough?

“How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?”

Chris Roemer writes from Finksburg. Reach him at chrisroemer1960@gmail.com.

For any member of the community who would like to submit a guest community voices column for publication consideration, it should be approximately 700 words and sent to bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.

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