Veering out of my lane into the immigration crisis (with Geraldo)

Lawrence Lessig had a good post the other day about the zero tolerance on immigration policy of the Trump administration. Lessig said he generally tries to “stay in my lane” in terms of what he blogs about/writes about: that is, Lessig’s area of expertise and interest is focused nowadays on “fixing democracy” with issues like campaign finance reform, and also issues having to do with copyright in the age of the internet (he founded Creative Commons, for example). But “the child separation policy crosses the line for me.”

I can relate to this. I am all over the place in what I post on platforms like Facebook and Twitter (maybe I shouldn’t be), but generally speaking, my blogging is about academia, MOOCs, writing, rhetoric, scholarship, and EMU, along with entries about my “life” that are mostly about food, travel, and gardening. Sure, there are a few posts over the last couple of years about politics and other things, but mostly I stay in my realms of expertise.

So posting about immigration policy and what the U.S. should do about this mess is going way outside my lane, and doing it while referencing a series of tweets from Geraldo Rivera is way WAY outside my lane. But I thought it was a worthwhile thought/blog experiment because (pretty much like every other American) I have opinions about all this, and also because I wanted to demonstrate how much I actually agree on this with a Fox News celebrity “journalist” who is (IMO) kind of a nutjob overall. And if Geraldo and I can mostly agree, then surly there is room for compromise and discussion on the problems of immigration in this country.

Before I get to Geraldo’s tweets:

  • The Trump administration “zero tolerance” policy is torture, full stop.
  • If I had my way, I’d let in a lot more people into this country. Congress should pass the Dream Act, there ought to be a path to citizenship (or at least legal status) for the 10 or 12 million undocumented people living in the U.S., there ought to be some kind of visiting worker program, and while I do not know how many immigrants we let in from other countries around the world, I am sure that number needs to be higher. Or what Brett Stephens said here: the U.S. really needs more immigrants as the population ages, as rural areas empty out all over the country, and as the demand for labor– particularly entry-level/low skill labor– increases.
  • Sure, we need to have boarders to be a country and we need to have some sense of security around those boarders. Then again, we don’t have any security around state boarders and that seems to work out fine, and within the European Union, crossing the boarder between different countries is usually pretty trivial.
  • It sure seems to me like a lot of Trump et al’s efforts at cracking down on immigration is just fear of brown people. If there was some kind of crisis going on in Northern Europe or Russia akin to what’s going on right now in Central America (which is why a lot of these people are trying to get to the U.S. in the first place), Trump and his ilk would be holding “welcome to America” parades.

Okay, on To Geraldo Rivera’s tweets:

Yes on all of the above.

The issue of more housing (family and otherwise) and immigration judges, social workers, and lawyers to help resolve cases where people are seeking asylum is perhaps a more conservative position compared to most of my liberal friends who might argue that’s just putting these people into “camps.” But the system dubbed “catch and release” that encourages people to disappear into the underground of America doesn’t seem like a great idea either. So I think housing these folks for a while is okay if we can figure out a way to hold both immigrants and asylum seekers (and their families, of course) in a humane and supportive way until the legal stuff gets figured out, assuming it can be figured out reasonably quickly (which is why we need more judges and lawyers and social workers and help from NGOs involved).

Well, three out of four here, Gerry.

The border wall is just dumb. It would cost way too much money, take too much time to build, it would cause a ton of environmental damage, and it’d be too easy to get around (ever hear of a ladder?) I honestly think that Trump wants a wall because China has a wall and he thinks it’d be cool if in 100 years people up in space look down on the earth circling below and they’re able to point out both the Wall of China and Trump’s Wall.

But everything else Geraldo is suggesting here is true. We need to do the opposite of picking fights with Mexico– and now Canada and those tricky Canadians coming into this country to smuggle back shoes!— and that “Marshall Plan” idea for Central America is really important too. Most of the people trying to get into the U.S. nowadays aren’t Mexicans just hoping to earn a better living. Most of these people are from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala and they are literally running for their lives. I don’t know all the details of the problems there and I am sure individuals have slightly different reasons for trying to get out. But It only takes a teeny-weeny bit of empathy to imagine that the situation must be pretty shitty. I mean, how bad would it have to be for you to grab what you (and your kids) could carry and then just start walking for 1400 miles to the U.S. boarder, hoping for the best?

Instead of spending $25+billion on a wall that wouldn’t work anyway, we should be trying to do what we can to aid and support the countries these folks are trying to escape so they stop coming here.

He kind of lost track of his numbering system here, but generally speaking, sure, this seems about right.

Absolutely, though there are two issues here that aren’t exactly points of disagreement so much as they are explanations as to why too many Americans are against this idea. There’s a lot of fear and racism that has to be overcome before far too many Americans are willing to remember what we “share” with our southern neighbors, and I presume that our southern neighbors who have been treated like shit by the U.S. for decades might feel the same way. And while I agree we should welcome foreign college students here, the “maybe they’ll invent (the) next google” line I am sure makes too many Americans afraid that that means “THEN THEY’LL TAKE OUR JOBS!”

Finally:

Well, we might have to agree to disagree with that shining city on the hill/beacon of hope/hugging the flag bullshit, but the general picture is about right.

So look: immigration is a hard issue and our system for dealing with it in this country has been a mess for decades. Even Trump is right about that. And there are some major points of disagreement that are going to be hard to resolve– particularly the call for a wall and the not so subtle racism behind all this. But if a liberal like me can agree with 11 out of 12 Geraldo points, well, isn’t the solution to this problem possible?

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