EDITORIAL — Congress must try to fix border crisis

Published 12:11 am Friday, July 12, 2019

Continuing chaos along Texas’ southern border fails our state, Mexico and the immigrants — most are from Central America —pressing to come to our country legally. It helps no one, not even partisans who hope to score political points by decrying the imbroglio that has developed.

The standoff along the border cripples commerce between our state and Mexico, our top trade partner. It creates a humanitarian crisis.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and U.S. Rep. Henry Cueller, D-Texas, seem to be making a concerted effort to relieve some of the worst border problems through their HUMANE Act, which languishes in Congress. If this legislation does not satisfy Congress — Democrats and Republicans — others should step forward to offer better solutions.

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“We are a generous country when it comes to legal immigration,” Cornyn said in a conference call with Texas reporters Wednesday. But the uncontrolled, human influx that the border standoff is promoting will likely generate new problems related to immigration or exacerbate old ones.

To that end of understanding the problems, Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to visit the border Friday. Cornyn was to accompany him. We hope the visit advances understanding and, more importantly, solutions.

Cornyn says the Trump administration has gotten better cooperation on the border standoff from the Mexican government than from House Democrats. Maybe that’s because our southern neighbors are living with the issue, just as Texans are, and are more motivated to alleviate or resolve it.

Among things that Cornyn and Cuellar seek are an increase in Border Patrol personnel, greater court capacity to hear immigration cases, more safeguards to protect unaccompanied children at the border, additional processing centers to process and house family units.

News this week suggests that border crossings may be declining from alarming levels in May, but there were still more than 100,000 arrests in June. That reflects not only an impossible burden on the U.S. government but on the American people who have to foot the bill for processing, detaining and dealing with the influx of people who arrive here, illegally or not. For a country that’s $23 trillion in the hole, that’s alarming.

Those politicians who’ve suggested decriminalizing illegal border crossings only undercut our nation’s security and stability.

The continuing crisis also reflects a toll on those who’ve marched across Mexico to the border itself, either by their own initiative or with the encouragement of other, outside influences. The results have been costly in terms of human misery.

Cornyn suggests that HUMANE Act passage would decrease the safety risks immigrants face. Cuellar seeks a day in court for those at the border who seek it. Both are laudable goals. Congress ought to pursue them, if not through the HUMANE Act then through a better vehicle.