Over the recent past, we have witnessed more than our share of truly awful partisan moments. We saw a disabled journalist mocked, Gold Star families maligned, a POW with lifetime injuries ridiculed, and the Memorial Wall at the CIA demeaned. While it would be wrong to think the reasons for our national disgust could not grow, we could be excused for not thinking it would be as grotesque as it turned out to be this week.
Using a pot of money, $12 million in public funds, Florida moved some immigrants to another state. The aim of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is not to aid, comfort, or assist people who have come to our nation seeking a better life, but rather to pump up his name and harsh brand of conservatism for a national bid for the presidency. If seeking to embarrass officials in other states by abusing men, women, and children who are at the mercy of our nation now what constitutes ‘leadership’ in the modern GOP, well, Lord, help us all.
This week the shameless display of flying about 50 immigrant Venezuelans to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts set the bar for deplorable behavior at the lowest level yet. There was no notice given to state or local officials or equally important to aid organizations who could have helped to support these people. It was reported the immigrants were picked up in Texas where they had been staying and then flown through Florida. The funding for this despicable treatment of people was from a ‘slush fund’ in Florida, money not appropriated for the purpose to act with recklessness or with a desire to harm others. Yet, DeSantis was doing exactly that very thing.
Not to be outdone for wretched behavior, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has also sent busloads of people to cities around the country. But come Sunday these self-righteous men will bask themselves in evangelical fervor and pretend to have a slice of decency in their lives. But what they really have demonstrated outside of church is the absence of Christian values. No one uses vulnerable human beings as political pawns. It is grotesque.
People come to this nation for economic and safety reasons. The fact is there will be much stress and upheavals in Mexico and Central American countries in the years to come. Some of it will be created by climate change and while there are those who will pretend that is not a ‘real concern’, it is in fact, already contributing to immigration. Reports from places such as the Northern Triangle (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador) underscore weather changes are happening as drought becomes prevalent. As such, challenges with farming mean people are leaving. Add in drugs and the misery they cause in these counties, and factor in natural disasters, and failed governmental leadership and it is no wonder people flee in an attempt for something better. You and I would do the same.
There remains a duty for politicians to craft a reasonable immigration bill that will afford our nation’s border security. That has long been a point this blog has made clear. One of the reasons that such legislation is not forthcoming or sent to the president’s desk is that we do not have common-sense redistricting. During the past decade, 70% of the Republican members of the House had less than 10% Hispanic voter base in their districts which means there was nothing required of those members to act. They felt no pressure to work for the higher national interests or do the heavy lifting required when it comes to immigration reform.
Some Republicans are, in fact, the reason two all-encompassing bills failed to be enacted. For the record, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 passed in the Senate on May 25, 2006, on a 62-36 vote. The bill included provisions to strengthen border security with fencing, vehicle barriers, surveillance technology, and more personnel; a new temporary worker visa category; and a path to legal status for immigrants in the country illegally if they met specific criteria. Then-President George W. Bush commended the Senate “for passing bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform” and said he looked forward to working with both chambers. But the bill was never taken up by the House.
Then in 2013, a bill backed by Democrats and 14 Republicans, called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act passed the Senate on a 68-32 vote on June 27, 2013. It rotted in the GOP House. In 2018 Dreamers were being held hostage by the GOP congress.
Republicans have shown they will not ante up to pass meaningful immigration policy but will harm and abuse others to make for partisan tensions. The horrible behavior of DeSantis along with his band of aping followers this week underscores the need for good immigration policy to trump loud boorish partisanship.