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Christine Korenthal: Immigrants deserve a timely answer

Posted: July 11, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 11, 2014 2:00 a.m.
 

The news has been dominated for several weeks now with coverage of our rapidly deteriorating border security and the influx of children, in particular, traveling alone and coming into our country illegally.

One can’t help but be heartbroken at the images of these children, crowded into government facilities with an uncertain fate ahead of them.

Their faces tug at our heartstrings as we can only imagine the hardships they’ve endured and the dangers they survived just to get here and escape the violence and devastating poverty of their home countries.

I can’t help but think of their parents and the desperation that they must have felt as they packed their children’s things and sent them across unsafe borders alone.

I sent my own 10-year-old daughter on a plane recently, unaccompanied, for her to attend a camp out of state.

It was a fairly tense two hours. Even though I knew that security was fantastic and that it was almost certain that she would arrive safely into the loving arms of her grandfather as soon as her plane landed, I was terrified that if anything went wrong I would be completely unable to protect her.

My anxiousness seems trivial when I think of what the parents of these children must go through as they send their children across our unsecured border, rampant with drug smugglers and violent criminals, in the hopes that their children might be able to stay in our country.

I feel a twinge of sadness because I haven’t heard from my child in days, but I take comfort in knowing that it’s all okay. She is happy and having the time of her life.

Many of these parents haven’t heard from their children in weeks and have no idea where they are, whether they are safe, if their needs are being taken care of, or even if they are alive.

The kind of despair it would take to let one’s child go in those circumstances is simply incomprehensible to those of us who live within the relative safety of our borders.

It’s truly a tragedy that these kids have had to endure so much in their short lives. Now they are being packed into over-crowded temporary holding facilities until they can be sent to extended family inside the U.S. or returned to their parents in their home country.

Of course, if our government had a remotely sensible and comprehensible immigration policy, they and their parents never would have been separated to begin with. They would either fight to take back their country from the violent men who’ve taken it over, or apply to legally immigrate here as millions of other legal immigrants, including a few of my friends and neighbors, have done.

Unfortunately, when they are offered a third option with illegal immigration and the potential for a second sweeping amnesty like the one granted in the 1980s, the temptation to risk it all for the chance to gain entry to the United States becomes greater than many can resist.

There is little doubt that we need immigration reform in this country. The argument is how to go about it.

It must be compassionate but it must also contain common sense and it must begin with shutting off the flow of illegal border crossings.

No more promises of securing the border on Tuesday in exchange for amnesty today. There are millions of people who are waiting in line to come to our country, beginning that process by asking our permission and respecting the rule of law.

They must take priority over those who have not done the same.

Our government also needs to streamline the process for legally immigrating here. It seems to me that a person should not have to wait five to 10 years to get permission to come to our country legally.

When the process is that lengthy, it’s not a wonder why people cut the line. They deserve a timely answer: Yes or no and that “no” needs to be enforced with a secure border. Someone once said that the true test of a country’s greatness is to determine the number of people who want out versus the number who want in. If that’s a good measure, then America truly is the greatest nation in the world.

May that remain true for my children and their children’s children. God bless America.

Christine Korenthal is a Canyon Country resident. “Right Here, Right Now” runs Fridays in The Signal.

 

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