Thoughts on immigration

Published Brownsville Herald December 5, 2011

As I begin these thoughts it is Thanksgiving Day and I can smell all the goodies cooking in the kitchen. You can be sure I will give thanks for my family and those good friends who have remained true over the years, even during the rough spots.
I have lived in Brownsville longer than I have anywhere else in my adult life, and have developed a deep affinity for the place and the surroundings that give the place its character.
For quite some time I have been troubled with the problems in our neighbor Mexico, and the migration of its citizens that has resulted.
How do we define what is happening? Is it just a collection of unlawful activities? Certainly if you only focus on the happenings one at a time related to the traditional administration, that might well be the case.
What if we look at it as if the country were more distant and we had not developed such a close relationship? Might we consider what’s happening as a revolution by another major local force?
Further, might we then determine politically whether or not we can support the existing government or the revolutionaries? Then we as a nation would offer the afflicted residents assistance, or even the opportunity to move to the United States.
The vastness of the conflict in Mexico seems to encompass the entire nation and deeply affects how it operates. The conflict has created a debate over whether a major part of a nation has the right to grow and market certain agricultural products that have an astronomical market around the world, or should it be deemed an illegitimate enterprise worthy of the full force of our military to stop and assist in re-institutionalizing a legitimate government.
The question isn’t so easy to resolve, as the production and use of the product seems to be broadly assimilated in Mexico. Were the inter-producer conflicts settled we might not take as much notice.
What do we do, then, as neighbors? Can we determine what another nation produces? We as a matter of international diplomacy don’t seem to take as much interest in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan or India, which also produce the same or similar products.
The issue really seems at the moment to really be the migration of Mexican nationals, and their apparent ease in getting here.
If we have determined that some of the residents are distressed, then they should be offered the opportunities we offer others in similar situations. Certainly, temporary residence here should be a normal procedure until conditions there have been determined and the problems addressed.
We all should consider the circumstances of the Mexican nationals who have arrived in the United States and are not violating U.S. laws. Once we consider their circumstances, we should make our choices known in the coming elections. Not only can you vote, but you can also financially support the candidate who most agrees with your conscience, and write to the candidates and the current elected officials and let them all know how you feel.
My political leanings are basically conservative and would include the strict enforcement of immigration requirements. But I also served overseas in the military and after having lived for a time outside the United States during conflict, I tend to consider the folks who are just people trying to survive from day to day. Most do not have the power to change their circumstances and I believe they deserve real consideration.
I have worked in the enforcement of customs and immigration law; the agency I worked for then no longer exists. We were not allowed to make policy distinctions regarding any individuals. An agency with broader mandates and powers now is charged with the responsibilities. I don’t know if it is any more efficient, but I can’t make those distinctions in authorities either.
The power starts with the people and is made known with the vote.
Next year we elect a new batch of Congress members as well as the president. You can let them know how you feel with your votes.