The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

Border crisis reveals deeper conflicts

Liebo argues that conflict over the border crisis is reflective of broader extremism and polarization.

As the 2024 presidential election nears, issues that define party differences are magnified. Immigration, an ongoing policy dispute yet to be countered with a concrete resolution from either side, has remained a defining factor in American politics. For as long as immigration has existed, anti-immigrant sentiment has existed alongside it. The split between parties over this issue today has facilitated an environment where middle ground reforms seeking to make material improvements are typically rejected. The inability to pass bipartisan legislation debilitates the chambers of our government from achieving improvement. This February, the Senate blocked a bi-partisan compromise proposal, authored by conservative Republican James Lankford, for border security and immigration due entirely to the influence of former president Donald Trump and his extremist agenda. A bipartisan solution is crucial, but that will not happen with one side unwilling to compromise.

Both left and right party members agree that the current process in place to address the influx of immigrants is inadequate. Asylum seekers held in camps on the border have been left stranded, countless families have been separated, and many immigrants face violence from gangs and officials. According to a report by PBS, an increased number of families are making “perilous journeys to the border” putting many children in potentially unsafe situations. Border towns, such as El Paso and Eagle Pass, are also negatively impacted by the current immigration system as their public services are strained and they struggle to find shelter for the influx of new arrivals. A system flawed on many levels requires a collaborative effort to negotiate and improve its policies, an effort that currently seems wishful at best. 

The Lankford bill was drafted after months of negotiations on both sides and drew up achievable measures to improve immigration policy. It sought to protect the right to asylum for those who truly needed it, while enforcing stricter policy on the system in order to gain better control of the border. The current system is strained and the influx of immigrants has backed it up significantly, allowing for years to pass before those claiming asylum have their hearing. According to the National Immigration Forum, asylum seekers are currently looking at a wait of approximately 4.3 years. The bill would put the process in the hands of asylum officers and allow decisions on asylum applicants to be made in a matter of months rather than years. It would also aim to weed out false cases earlier and put in place authority to prevent an influx of arrivals at one time. The concessions made by both Democratic and Republican senators were significant, and the rejection from Republicans speaks volumes about the challenges ahead. 

Trump leads the extreme right agenda that further pushes us away from progress. The acceptance of immigrants into one’s country is an act based on humanitarian principles, and there is nothing humanitarian about Trump’s branding of immigrants and approach to immigration altogether. His harmful rhetoric only encourages policies put in place to rip families apart and deny the validity of those seeking asylum. His comments since the beginning of his 2016 campaign have made it clear that he sees no place for immigrants in his vision of America. 

This past March, in a speech made at a campaign event in Ohio, Trump stated that migrants “are not people,” driving home a racial issue that has been central to conflict surrounding immigration. This kind of language poses danger to the nation’s image of immigrants that his administration has consistently pushed, prompting an enemy mindset directed at those entering the country. Trump has accused undocumented immigrants on multiple occasions of “poisoning the blood” of the country, encouraging a violent anti-immigrant approach to dealing with a group composed mainly of those who are fleeing persecution or poverty and seeking protection.

The deepening of partisan polarization and the effects of extreme right wing rhetoric have made the possibility of agreement over immigration reform unachievable. With Trump as the Republican nominee for the presidential election in 2024, the chances of compromise on immigration are greatly reduced. His inhumane approach, evident by his words and actions, only further pits people against one another and disregards the benefits of immigration to the United States. Policymakers must find middle ground in order to create an immigration system that is both sustainable and humane. 

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