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Democrats make hay, but share the blame

President Trump’s signing of an executive order halting the temporary separation of illegal families at the border came too late to prevent his millions of adversaries from making political hay of the issue.

Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times ludicrously compared the policy to the separation of slave families being sold off in the 19th century and to Jewish families being separated for execution in the 20th. He added that while it wasn’t really the same thing as slavery or Nazism, “it still fits neatly into the annals of barbarism” and is “truly evil.”

Like every other story blown out of proportion by the left’s shrieking hatred and hysteria during Trump’s presidency, the goal is to remove Trump from office and Republicans from control of Congress.

But even as the press, the Democrats and disgruntled Republicans portray the situation as a horrific stain on our national honor created solely by the Trump administration, there is plenty of blame to go around for the underlying problems that have caused far greater horror at the border for decades.

Both parties have long been complicit in failing to fix the problems that have led to the deaths of many illegals trying to get here. Some Americans have died too. Untold families have spent years or even decades in limbo and separation while Democrats and Republicans dithered and angled to get their own way. Illegals who did get here have historically been overworked and underpaid. Some even committed the horrific crimes Trump often speaks of. These horrors eclipse what happened recently at the border.

We wouldn’t have a flood of illegals today if Democrats and Republicans had done their job back in 1986. The passage that year of the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration reform led to permanent residency for three million illegals in the country at that time.

But that was just half the job. The other half was to secure the border to prevent another massive illegal buildup.

Unfortunately, the border never was secured. Through four subsequent administrations — two Republican (Bush and Bush) and two Democratic (Clinton and Obama) — both parties failed to secure the border so that today we have 11 million illegals and another administration trying to cope with it.

It turns out, as forewarned, that giving legal status to millions without strengthening the border creates an immense incentive for millions more to follow. That’s why it is so vital this time that both issues be resolved together — accommodation for those already here on the one hand, and a strengthened border going forward on the other. Yet neither party can bring itself to compromise with the other on this.

Ironically, the one person in Washington who has been willing to compromise is Donald Trump. The much-maligned president long ago suggested fixing both sides of this problem, only to have both parties (particularly the Democrats) backtrack, backstab and grandstand.

Many Republicans don’t want to do any favors for the 11 million illegals already here, especially after what happened last time. Most Democrats don’t want a wall, evidently preferring utopian open borders. Both parties use the illegals (adults and children alike) as pawns in their power struggle.

Trump the deal maker would accommodate both sides. And most Americans probably would accept a solution that truly fixes both problems. Legal immigration is fine. Humanitarianism is fine. Chaos is not, nor is repeating the same mistakes over and over.

Democrats won’t go along, however, because they refuse to do anything that would offend the Mexican population in this country, whose large voting bloc heavily favors their party. And the increasingly belligerent attitude of the immigrants themselves and their advocates is that it’s their birthright to come here illegally and to automatically receive everything from financial aid to citizenship.

That attitude is deeply offensive to many Americans, and Democrats run great risk buying into it. Even so, Republicans will have to agree to legal status and a stable family life for the otherwise law-abiding illegals already here. There is no other way.

This isn’t a complicated issue once the partisan fog is lifted. Trump has shown some willingness to do it. Though his brain-mouth dysfunction often gets in the way, he’s not the only bad guy at the border.

The others are the politicians, journalists and citizens who are unwilling to compromise, not to mention the immigrant parents who bring children here illegally instead of applying the safe and legal way. It’s one thing if you’re running for your life, another if you’re pining for a better life. In that case, get in line and play by the rules.

After decades of inaction by policy makers, perhaps Trump’s policy can lead to a good outcome if both sides will finally come together in its wake.

 

Mark Godburn is a bookseller in Norfolk and the author of “Nineteenth-Century Dust-Jackets.”