A woman and two children drowned in the Rio Grande on Friday night in Eagle Pass, Texas, after U.S. border agents were prevented from responding, federal officials said Saturday.

In a statement, a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said U.S. Border Patrol agents were made aware of the migrants’ distress by the Mexican government but were unable to enter the area from the U.S. side after Texas National Guard troops, under the direction of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, prevented them from doing so.

~Dennis Romero/NBC News

Excuse me, but isn’t Greg Abbott the one who claimed to be pro-life when he signed the most draconian anti-abortion legislation in the country post-Dobbs. Governor, how is the above incident “pro-life?”

This tragic event occurred one day following the latest email from my favorite “do nothing” U.S. representative Aaron Bean (R-FL4).  He posted the following:

This week, I took to the House floor to refute President Biden’s false claim that Republicans are to blame for the border crisis. It’s this administration’s open border policies that have directly resulted in the invasion happening along the southern border.

Americans know the truth. Our southern border remains open for one reason and one reason only: because President Biden refuses to shut it down.

If only the congressman would spend less time watching (and appearing on) Fox News and read any analysis about the increase in global migration.  He might learn the “flood” of migrants at our southern border is the result of lingering economic impacts from the pandemic, climate change and political persecution.  And as he tends to do, he once again equated talk with action.  Here are the three actions he took in response to what he calls an “invasion.”

  • Made a speech on the House floor.
  • Sent a letter to New York City mayor Eric Adams.
  • Appeared on Fox News to “discuss [Homeland Security] Secretary Mayorka’s dereliction of duty.”

What he did not do was propose an alternative to the bipartisan efforts in the Senate to address the issue, a compromise he opposes.

There is no question the border situation needs attention, but the real issue becomes clearer when viewed through a historical perspective.  Although the number of immigrants seeking entry into the United States may be at an all-time high, the total is a significantly lower percentage of the current U.S. population.  In 1907, 1,004,756 immigrants were processed through Ellis Island at a time when the total U.S. population was only 87 million.  In other words, America absorbed immigrants who made up an increase of 1.15 percent of its current population.  In contrast, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports just over 2.5 million migrants sought entry at the southern border in 2023 when the total U.S. population was 335.9 million for what would amount to an absorption rate of 0.74 percent.

On a more personal note, both my paternal and maternal grandparents came through Ellis Island during the early 1900s.  They were seeking refuge from the pogroms, organized efforts to eliminate or expel ethic and religious minorities, particularly Jews, from Russia and eastern Europe.  They did not speak English.  As documented by Lesley Kennedy on HISTORY.COM, over 80 percent of the arrivals at Ellis Island were processed and released within a few hours.  And less than two percent were denied entry.  Which raises some obvious questions.

  • What is so different about the aspiring immigrants  at the southern border versus those, like my ancestors, who entered the U.S. via Ellis Island?
  • What criteria were used to determine eligibility that resulted in only two percent being denied entry?
  • How could processing, without the benefit of modern technology, take only hours when today there is a backlog which can delay disposition of asylum requests for weeks, months and even years?

Kennedy suggests efficiencies were gained by a staggered system of sorting and screening.  First, immigrants arriving by boat provided basic information to officials when boarding the ship in Europe.  Upon arrival, two lines were formed, one with women and children, the other with men.  Medical examinations for communicable diseases were performed by military surgeons and individuals with health issues were quarantined.   The others were then questioned to verify the information provided on the ship manifest.  Only those with red flags were detained pending appeals.

This is not rocket science.  A similar system could be built with cooperation by the Mexican and other Latin American countries.  Screening of immigrants for disease, criminal background and drug smuggling (issues that are frequently raised by fearmongers) could be addressed before asylum seekers reach the border.  It would cost money, but that too could be addressed with a little creativity.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, no bastion of liberal orthodoxy, claims on its website: 

America has grown and thrived because we attract and welcome the hardest working and most talented people to our shores. They come here to pursue their dreams and build their lives. However, today’s immigration system falls far short of meeting the needs of our society, our economy, our businesses, and our workers. The U.S. Chamber works for smart immigration policy reforms so the U.S. can boost economic growth, create jobs, and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.

If this is true, one can imagine the Chamber and pro-business Republicans supporting an annual fee for each non-citizen employee a company hires who holds a green card or work visa to create an Ellis Island like system to expedite processing of aspiring immigrants.  This is, of course, if they really want to solve the problem, unlike House members like Aaron Bean who just want to bitch about it.

For what it’s worth.

One thought on “MYgration

  1. Thank you for a well expressed observation of the current situation including Congress’s lack of coordinated effort to address imigration. Most importantly, many with whom I spoken see the need for entries into the American job market for workers willing to do many jobs fellow Americans are unwilling to do. Enployers who go through the regulatory process which allows them to bring in a striclty controlled number of employees would, I think, be willing to pay a small fee in lieu of the regulatory fee for being able to support a more functional immigration system.

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