A starting point
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has suggested a 90-day moratorium on immigration to give Congress time to make the issue a priority. He is right to inject a sense of urgency in tackling the issue.
Most Americans cannot fathom coming from a place where it seems preferable to live in holding facilities in another country than to return. Most of us have no idea what it is like to truly live in fear that drives us to risk everything just for a chance at a better life for our kids.
Last week, Manchin traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border near Laredo, Texas. There, he met families who in many ways understand the American dream better than those of us who have the luxury of taking it for granted. And he heard about their struggle.
“The criminal element knows the (immigration) rules better than most of us in America do,” he said. “They prey on that. It’s their livelihood, and they’re preying on human suffering, which should be intolerable for all of us.”
Some of us are several generations removed from immigrants who faced a very different entry into this country, and have forgotten or never heard the stories told in those early generations about the reasons our own families sought the opportunity this nation has to offer.
Those now seeking to make it across our border have a variety of motives — as has always been the case. To do a better job for those who seek not just to get to the United States, but to become American citizens, Manchin has an idea.
“They should be able to go through the asylum process — the vetting process — and do all the things that are necessary before they come here,” he said. “It would be much more humane.”
And it might prevent many people from feeling as though they have no choice but to become criminals themselves to get a chance at the American dream.
Without opening ourselves up to the problems associated with some more extreme immigration reform ideas, Congress should use Manchin’s plan as a starting point.