LETTER: Immigration policy should be based in reality

Pat Long
West Manchester Township
In this Dec. 11, 2018, photo an asylum-seeking boy from Central America runs down a hallway after arriving from an immigration detention center to a shelter in San Diego. Since late October 2016, the U.S. has been releasing asylum-seeking families with little time to arrange travel, which it blames on lack of detention space. To avoid putting penniless families on the streets, charities and advocacy groups from California to Texas are scrambling to provide shelter, food, clothes and help buying bus and plane tickets. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Congress now has the opportunity to examine the facts concerning security at our southern land border with Mexico. 

Most of us agree that our borders should be secure and our citizens safe. Most also agree that those fleeing violence in their home countries have the legal right to seek asylum elsewhere. However, it is hard to know what the facts are because of all the emotional rhetoric.

This is not about winning, losing or compromising. Immigration policy is complex, involving safety – of citizens, of border patrol workers, of immigrants – involving legal factors, private land owners' rights, government authority, asylum seekers' rights, involving environmental protection and preservation of wilderness areas and species living there.

Each of these valid interests must be taken into account. New legislation must reflect our ideals of compassion and fairness as well as security. It must include concrete steps for reuniting all imprisoned children with their families and offering resources to mitigate the trauma they suffered as a result of the Trump administration's callous actions. New immigration law must clearly prohibit such inhumane behavior in future. 

Legislation is also needed that forbids government shutdowns over immigration or any other legislative disagreements. It is deliberately cruel and wrong to hold federal employees hostage to try and force policy changes.

I hope that reasonable members of Congress can listen to people with first-hand information about what is actually happening along our southern border and enact practical legislation based on facts and reality.

Once these immediate issues are resolved, Congress must then move forward improving our overall immigration system, which includes resolving equitably the ongoing dilemma of those young people in the DACA program.