The past month the politicians of Washington along with the media have “discovered” a “border crisis.” It is not as though this is something that has only just begun at the beginning of June, it seems more that Washington has decided to play some political games with immigration and so now the general public is made aware of the situation along with all of the divisive rhetoric.
My congressional representative, Mr. Adrian Smith, has recently made public comments as well as updates given to his constituency concerning this border crisis.
What upsets me most is how these children have become the latest pawns in the us vs. them battle that has created the least productive congress in the history of our nation.
What follows is my response that was sent to Mr. Adrian Smith. When I hear back from his office I will post his reply.
I am deeply concerned about your response to what the media and politicians have termed a “border crisis.”What I see as very unfortunate is how you are using the plight of these children to wage more attacks against Obama and to try to earn more political points from the conservative majority in our state that already has your support.
I am also concerned with your lack of understanding concerning the legal rights that these children have. Gov. Dave Heineman has already designated these children as “illegal immigrants” without affording them due process. In your email newsletter that I am responding to, you seem to already assume the intentions and motivations of tens of thousands of our Central American neighbors who have lived through years of violence and instability that we are not able to comprehend. Please do not just assume that “Families in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are sending their children alone to the United States because they believe they will have greater opportunities here. They are also being encouraged by the belief children will be allowed to stay in the United States if they make it across the border – even if they are undocumented.” Have you taken the time yet to listen to the thousands of stories that these children have born witness too? There is no possible way that you can tell the story of thousands of families in two sentences that are meant to score political points. It is your duty as a public servant to ensure that these children are afforded the legal right to due process that the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services have legally afforded them. Do not be so caught up in your electoral battle against the Democrats that you assume to know the motivations of these parents.
When an unaccompanied minor declares him/herself at the border, as these children have, they are afforded the legal protection of due process and confidentiality. It is your duty, again, as a public servant to ensure that our country is governed by laws and not by political gamesmanship. You and our governor should be respecting their legal rights and their confidentiality. I might be able to understand your concern for knowing who is being moved into Nebraska if your concern was actually for the protection of the children, but you explicitly state that you have requested “more information so safeguards can be put in place to protect the health and safety of our communities as well as to protect Nebraska taxpayers from additional burdens.” Since you have assumed the motivation of our Central American neighbors, will you allow me to make an assumption about you? Your motivation is one of fear. Fear that these children somehow pose a risk to our livelihoods. This seems to be a ridiculous claim, but it is a claim that cannot be put too far from the actions and statements that have come from Washington, both Republicans and Democrats. I hope you realize that this assumption about you is just as much unfair as your assumptions about the families in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
As a taxpayer in your constituency, I do not mind, and in fact, am proud of the fact that I can help these unaccompanied minors, who are asylum seekers, through my tax dollars. I am proud of the fact that our country will seek to care for them as human beings who have the right to medical care, education and a safe place to live while they await a day in court. I have no need of your protection from “additional burdens,” but these neighbors of ours do need our protection from one of the most violent areas in the world.
It is my plea that you and your fellow Congressman and women stop using these children for your own political gain and realize that this issue is more than just a U.S. border crisis. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there were over 1.1 million pending asylum seeker cases worldwide (http://popstats.unhcr.org/PSQ_RSD.aspx). This is a global issue of violence, instability and poverty. Our categories of immigration and who we determine to be legal and illegal within our political boundaries is really quite inconsequential in terms of our relationship and responsibilities with the world around us. We can put more armed agents on the boarder and build higher fences to appease our perception of security, but it does not change that the UNHCR has seen a “sharp rise in asylum claims in 44 industrialize countries over the course of last year ” (http://www.unhcr.org/532afe986.html). To say that “the President’s choice to not enforce certain immigration laws has only made this problem worse” is to be blinded by your own political agenda to see what is happening in the broader world.
It is my plea that you and your fellow Congressman and women stop using these children for your own political gain and stop operating out of position of fear and find legitimate ways to help our neighbors out of respect for their humanity.
David B. Clark
Grand Island, NE