Border wall at Brownsville / Wikimedia Commons.
Have you ever met a cat lady? They don’t necessarily have to be a lady, just a person who has collected cats over the years to the point of obsession. What starts off as one or two, grows into a horde of twenty.
These people always start out with the best of intentions. They take in an abandon cat, a stray, and it joins their home. Yet, soon others arrive, and what was once a good deed, becomes a house overwhelmed with litter boxes and cans of empty cat food. Good intentions gone awry.
My mother was such a person. She had a good heart, and was a kind person. She judged people on how they treated cats. If you couldn’t be kind to a cat, well, you wouldn’t be kind to people. She had a good point there.
Yet, as a cat lady, that had no other desire than to make the world a better place for those furry felines, she soon lost control and was overwhelmed.
See, the problem of being a cat lady? Everyone knows it. And despite the jeers and leers, they take advantage of you. They tell their friends about you, others that have ‘just too many cats’ and give out your address. So, within a short time, it is well-known you will take in every stray that comes along.
This happened to my mother. At first it was just a few, that she could take care of, get fixed or spaded, and keep up with the litter and food. Yet when the few became a horde, the cats took on a life of their own. Pulling her and my father down financially. She just couldn’t keep up, try as she might. Even after turning new strays away, more would come, because the word hadn’t gotten out yet.
Her good intentions, tied her and my father to their home. Making their golden years a prison full of furry inmates. Traveling became problematic, guest too, even simple things like going to the store required two carts of food. One for humans, one for cats.
In a sense, the United States of America has its own cat issue. Except they are people. People who brave a long and dangerous journey just to find out that we are not taking in more strays. This isn’t the fault of those who come here. Their lives in their home countries is less than desirable. Even the countries they pass through to get to the U.S.A. are not the most friendly to their plight. And now, their destination has closed their doors.
In the media are countless stories of those who make the journey. Debates rage on social media and in the chambers of Congress. People lament over the separation of children from their parents. Calling this unjust and evil. Comparing this policy to Nazi Germany, or to Interment of the Japanese during WWII.
Neither of those comparisons are correct, nor remotely accurate. It’s just hyperbole to drive emotions and make people more engaged and enraged.
Yet to separate children from their parents for trying to find a better home? Well, if you didn’t expect backlash, you are really out of touch.
But what to do? What to do?
You read that right, The Karen. If you have never heard of The Karen, don’t feel bad. I had never heard of them either till they became my neighbors.
The Karen are an indigenous people from Myanmar (Burma) that have been forced from their lands to now live on the border in Thailand. They live in refugee camps and eke out a living. Many have applied for and gained refugee status in other countries. Canada and the United States being popular destinations.
Now here is something interesting about the Karen. They are pretty basic people, good people who were farmers, who do their best to adjust to their new homes. English is extremely hard for them to learn, as their culture is very different from ours. Concepts like ‘Last Names’ and even how you address siblings by order. (different words for different orders of birth – Sister and Brother only work in a two kid family.)
As far as I know, The Karen are not radical in any way. They do not have extreme political views or religious beliefs that would make any American bat an eye at.
The point I am trying to make is this. There is no reason why these refugees, who have a legitimate (and well-known to our government) reason to seek asylum, should have to wait for years to become American citizens. But in a discussion with my neighbor the other day, that is exactly what he and his family are doing. For the last 7 years.
Solving the Unsolvable.
If you think the government of the United States has a solution, you would be wrong. Neither side on the political spectrum has a solution. Ideas have been tried. From outright amnesty to building a wall to stop the influx of immigrants. With every ‘solution’ there are problems.
Don’t think I am going to solve it here, I’m not.
Yet after my discussion with my neighbor, I came to the conclusion that our immigration polices are broken. And I thought about that more than I did solutions. We don’t need solutions yet, we need to ask ourselves the right questions.
1.) Who do we want to immigrate to the United States?
a.) Those who can bring with them their educational and work experience. Thus, Self-Starters.
b.) Refugees from War torn regions and Ethic cleansing. Who are in peril in their native lands.
c.) Economic refugees. Those who seek a better economic life, or flee areas of violence and instability that prevents them from making a living.
d.) Simply those who wish to be a United States citizen. To start a new life in this country.
2.) What do we do with those who are here illegally?
a.) We send them back. Without tying up our judicial system.
b.) We process each claim, allowing them to live where they choose.
c.) We create Detention Cites, to process those who come, and when those cities are full, forbid those new entries, from entry.
d.) We grant them amnesty. Thus resetting the books, and start fresh.
3.) What do we do with DACA and those families with so-called Anchor Babies?
a.) We would have to amend the Constitution, creating an Amendment that changes the 14th Amendment. Barring Anchor Babies citizenship directly. Yet they can apply at 18 years of age and given preference.
b.) We could arrange for those who fall under DACA and those who have a U.S. citizen as a child, to be granted permanent legal status. Alien Resident.
c.) We could allow all DACA’s to be granted U.S. citizenship immediately, if they meet a certain criteria.
d.) We could grant amnesty to all DACA’s and families of U.S. born citizens.
We need to have a discussion in the United States. One not based on political agenda, nor based on perceived or actual racism. But one of what we want as a nation. As compassionate or uncaring as we may seem as a people, eventually, if left unchecked, we will become a Cat Lady nation. Unable to sustain ourselves, and eventually collapse under the influx of unchecked immigration. No nation on this planet can absorb the rest of the world.
Yet we can’t simply build a wall and call it done. Nor can we take families apart and think that will be a deterrent. We have to figure out the Who, What, and Where of immigration. Design polices that benefit not only our nation, but those who come here seeking a new life.
One thing I got from my Karen neighbor that was interesting. Despite having to wait in line for the last 7 years. He has the American Dream. He wants to become and American. I know this not through his words, but actions.
You see, it is my neighbors kids, his 6-year-old son, and 9-year-old daughter who have become fixtures at my home. Here to play with my children, to hone their English skills, learn about what it means to be an American, by hanging around Americans.
For whatever we decide as a nation, how we fix this issue, and set forth guidelines for the future. We must remember that those who come to our nation, become our nation. That they, seeking freedom and a sense of security, also want to be us. That the melting pot does work, and must work for all.
That what has made our nation the desired place to resettle, is that we accept all, and they become us. That our nation is the world, and that Out Of the Many, we become One.