In the 1966 comedy, The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming, a group of disguised Russians sailors are trying to find a boat to pull their submarine off a sand bar in New England. They practice their lines repeatedly in broken English: “Emergency! Everybody to get from street!” There is no “Emergency.” They are just trying to hide their captain’s blunder.
That’s similar to President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border in an attempt to get his border wall built. There is no emergency. The best evidence is the president’s own words in his speech on February 15 announcing his plan: “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”
Members of Congress from both parties, security experts, and Americans who live at the border have all said, “There is no emergency.” The most common argument in favor of a national emergency is that there is an epidemic of crime by immigrants along the border. The truth is the crime rate in the 23 counties along the U.S. border with Mexico is below that of counties in the United States that do not reside along the Mexican border.
Violent and property crime rates are both slightly lower along the border, but the homicide rate along the border is 34 percent below the homicide rate in non-border counties. Wow!
If the President wanted to call a real national emergency, he could have tackled the drug epidemic. Every day 120 Americans die of an overdose. Or he could have called a national emergency for gun violence. We are the most violence country in the civilized world. Thousands of innocent people die violent deaths yearly. Our infrastructure is falling apart. We could go on.
El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz has tried to promote the true picture of life on the U.S.-Mexican border. He said, “For us it’s a place of passage, it’s a place of encounters; it’s a place you cross in order to join your family; it’s not this place of armies confronting one another.”
According to a recent CBS poll, most Americans (59 percent) oppose building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. That’s because most of the drugs come in from Ports of Entry loaded in secret places on trucks. Border patrol agencies have expressed a need for more technological equipment to discover this hidden contraband. Most illegal immigrants come in the U.S. legally and then decided to stay without proper documents.
The New York Times recently reported that four women have come forward to say that they worked at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey while undocumented. The women claimed that their supervisors help them obtain false documents. When this news became public, the company let these immigrants go. This seems hypocritical. It’s modern day slavery.
Bishop John Streve has said, “The cry of the bishops on both sides of the border is for comprehensive immigration reform that follows these principles. First, providing economic opportunities and safety in the homelands of migrants is the only lasting solution to the ‘problem’ of immigration.
“In addition, the right of survival and the right to support one’s family are of a higher moral order than the nation’s rights to protect its borders (although border protection is indeed a right of nations). People who cross borders do not give up their human rights and must be treated humanely. Immigration policies and quotas need frequent revision to make it possible for those who have a genuine need to migrate to do so legally and safely.
“When we proclaim Jesus’ Gospel, we are committing ourselves to see Jesus in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the prisoner, the brown and the black. We are here to affirm the presence of Jesus in the outcast and exploited whose humanity has been disrespected and whose rights have been trampled.”
Pope Francis asks us to build bridges, not walls. Are we with Jesus or with the false prophets of today?