The Caravan

An Editorial in last week’s Daily Sun challenges Democrats to talk about “the caravan.” I will.

The Editorial concedes “The country’s strength is derived from the fact that it has been home to those in peril,” adding, “[t]his does not mean open borders but a smart and lawful methodology for determining who should be allowed entry.”

I agree. Democrats do not support “open borders,” as extremist rhetoric accuses.

But, it is not just that our strength derives, at least in part, from welcoming refugees; the law requires us to do so. The United States is capable of following the law if we have sensible and moral leadership that is committed to do so. The “caravan” currently making its way through Mexico is the size of a tiny town in this country. It is smaller than the crowd at many sporting events. There is no reason that these people cannot go through an initial screening just as we process thousands per day through our airports and stadiums. Then, there are established legal procedures for asylum applications — if only our government would use them instead of exploiting fear tactics. These include initial detainments without circumvention of due process with expedited deportations or extended, unnecessary confinements, and certainly do not include family separations. The Trump administration defiantly breaks these laws.

The law on refugee status changed in the 1950s in reaction to the atrocities of WWII. (Google it.) Some have heard that the United States turned away a shipload of Jews seeking asylum from Germany; fewer now know that the State Department denied visas and that Congress ignored pleas to increase immigration quotas for those seeking to flee Germany. I had a conversation yesterday in which someone said about “the caravan”, “I’m sorry things are like that where they live; but that’s where they live: they have no right to come here.”

I wanted to ask her if she would have been among those who said that to the Jews seeking asylum here before war broke out in WWII. But I was too compassionate to her to say it. Perhaps the Editorial is right that it is time for Democrats to speak out. I do not think the woman was evil; I think she lacks this history lesson.

Even if the United States bore no responsibility for the conditions in Honduras, with the Editorial concedes it does, we would be required to process these asylum-seeks pursuant to our own laws and international treaties. The Trump Administration is failing morally and breaking the law. The American people — not just Democrats — must speak up or our values and moral standing in the world are at peril.

ANN HEITLAND
Coconino County Democratic Party

Source: Democrats addressing the caravan, AZ Daily Sun

Responding to: Democrats Need to Talk about the Caravan, AZ Daily Sun

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