“Make it stop!” That’s what I’ve been hearing from so many Louisvillians these days. And that’s what I reported at a meeting of House leadership not long ago when we were asked what our constituents were talking about. And that was before the horrific scenes from our southern border started hitting the media.
The brazen and disprovable lying — make it stop!
The rank hypocrisy — make it stop!
The demonization of virtually every government institution — make it stop!
The crude and dangerous assault on the media — make it stop!
The mindless and myopic foreign policy — make it stop!
The hollowing out of the government — make it stop!
And now, of course, the psychological genocide of thousands of children by our government.
Please, make them all stop!
There is an unavoidable danger in writing about our current national malaise. As we sometimes joke around Washington, everything has been said, but not everyone has said it. So anything you might write about current events has probably been written already.
But pick your adjective — heartbreaking, despicable, horrific, inhuman, vile, etc. — to describe what is being done to young human beings in the name of so-called border security, the nation has been aroused to the point that restaurant owners deny service to Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is harassed in a D.C. (Mexican! What was she thinking?) restaurant. And any elected official is obligated to comment on every, seemingly hourly, episode.
So, here is my take on the last week or so.
Immigration is one of our most-complicated and daunting challenges. But it also is one of our best opportunities. There are millions of talented, hard-working and honorable human beings who want to live in America. We need a lot of them, because we are not generating enough native population growth. Unless things change, in the not-too-distant future we will not have enough people working to support those, mostly retired seniors, who are not.
In 2013, I spent seven months as one of eight bipartisan members of Congress trying to forge a comprehensive approach to immigration reform in the United States. I learned through that process how easy the solutions are if you don’t have to deal with the political world. The elements are almost self-evident: secure the borders; make it much easier for close family members to be reunited with their U.S. citizen relatives; create a process for seasonal workers to come and go, so our workforce has access to people who are needed to supplement the existing workforce; make sure employers don’t hire people who are not legally employable; and finally, create a path to citizenship for those immigrants who came here illegally, but who have become citizens in every way but documentation.
Our group did all of these things. Seven out of the eight agreed on our plan, which unfortunately was never voted on in the House of Representatives. If we had acted then, the gut-wrenching horrors now occurring at the southern border would never have happened.
Unfortunately, the unprecedented political environment of 2018 probably makes that approach impossible today. Despite what President Trump says every day, congressional Democrats would like nothing more than to work toward a bipartisan immigration approach. All we have seen from our Republican colleagues, however, are proposals based on the un-American and historically inaccurate concept that immigration, especially from Trump-described “shithole countries,” is bad for our country. We can come up with a solution that embraces the beautiful children now being traumatized by our government and one that makes it largely unnecessary for people seeking opportunity in America to break the law to get here.
One thing I know for sure, denying service to someone you oppose politically will not get it done. (Side note: I was once publicly banned from Jeff Ruby’s restaurant by the owner for a position I had taken. I was also verbally assaulted by another restaurant owner for my views when I was in his establishment spending my money. I haven’t been back to that one, and Jeff Ruby apologized and removed the ban.) Screaming at Trump administration officials won’t accomplish anything either. We have a well-established process for changing policy in the United States. We elect people who will move in a different direction.
Election Day is a little more than four months away. That’s when we can make it stop. •
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, founder of LEO, has represented Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District since 2007 and is the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.