Letter: 'For most coming to the border, there is nothing more to lose'

The Shawnee News-Star

Dear editor,

The images on TV of people fording the Rio Grande or scaling the border wall evoke anger and sympathy. Anger at the people crossing illegally, at their smugglers, at our elected officials. Sympathy is for me reserved for those risking everything to enter the United States.

Risking everything by entering illegally is hugely unwise, but then again, desperation takes huge risks. Desperation can be so riven with fear that common sense gets overidden again and again. I realize there are "desperados" who believe the law is inapplicable to them (broadly speaking, so do some citizens), yet seeing ordinary people on TV as they darkly attempt to cross the border, I want to shout, "You are wrong to come here illegally!"

Then I remember: If in their shoes, maybe I'd attempt the same.

Our elected officials could have worked across the political divide and across the human spectrum of possibility to help the desperate. A generation has elapsed, and politicians still mostly preach blame. To them, reelection is what matters, while advocating a Marshall Plan for Central America does not, hiring enough immigration judges does not, providing for decent half-way housing does not, hiring enough social workers does not, undergirding border patrol does not, creating immigration policy that avoids a humanitarian crisis does not. True, non-citizens aren't entitled to assistance; equally true, human beings are entitled to mercy. The politics of blame and reelection have done little to mitigate the long-suffering border desperation, the generation-long border smuggling. What to do?

There is sufficient blame to go around, but personally, I don't blame people for wanting to better their lives, especially their children's. For most coming to the border, there is nothing more to lose. George W. Bush was right when in '07 he stated that people to our south will take jobs many Americans are unwilling to take: picking produce, shingling houses, cleaning motels, cutting grass, plucking chickens. 

In my opinion, border policy has diminished us as a civilization. Seeing politicians on TV as they mount the "border pulpit" and preach blame, I want to shout, "Cut the pretentious behavior... do your job!" 

Then I remember: If in their shoes, maybe I'd behave the same.

For the needy at our gates, it would be good to start practicing the "wisdom from above" which first is "pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated...." (James 3:18 KJV) 

Good for the rest of us, too.

Larry Inman

Shawnee