To Find Common Ground on Border Security, Consider Causes of Undocumented Immigration

As one who was in the Iowa Legislature when the abortion issue became unnecessarily polarized, I am saddened that a similar pattern has developed regarding the policing of our national borders and overall immigration policy.  Now, as then, the loudest voices falsely insist that there can be no common ground since fundamental principles are at stake.

We live in such polarized times that the more extreme positions quickly frame any issue, effectively excluding thoughtful examination of other options.  Either/or is a false way to frame choices for it allows others to easily herd us into starkly opposite camps in which dialogue cannot occur. 

Just as I never knew a single legislator who favored abortions, I personally know of no one who does not believe in the importance of having secure borders.  Likewise, most people want to allow – not bar – legal immigration.

Just as thoughtful reflection about abortion would have inquired why women sought abortions in the first place – something that might have led us to attack such things as poverty, inadequate nutrition and unaffordable health care – so also would giving attention to the facts behind who immigrants really are, why they are seeking to come to our country, and how they are treated would aid us in forging responses that actually work.

There is a creative tension that will always exist between the need for law and order and the desire for justice. Stable societies need both.  A healthy society provides both security and justice. And, just as nation-states need to have credible borders, so do they also need to have enlightened immigration policies that rise above racial, ethnic, or religious prejudices.


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