Tag Archives: immigration

Immigrants strengthen us

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Now that Gov. Greg Abbott has declared his intention to shut down the Texas border with Mexico all by himself, I want to say a word or two about immigrants and the strength they bring to this great country.

I am acutely aware that Abbott wants to end “illegal immigration” into this country. He wants to stop refugees who are seeking to enter the U.S. to flee oppression, crime, poverty and misery in their home countries. Hmm. Is that a bad thing for the United States?

Yes, they should enter the country legally. I know and accept it.

Abbott, though, has targeted specifically criminals who he said should be arrested, detained and then sent back. Let’s see. I think that has been occurring since, oh, about the time of the nation’s founding. However, the GOP demagogues continue to insist that President Biden has enacted an “open border policy” that allows for thugs to enter freely.

Why do I feel so strongly about immigrants? I am the grandson of four of them. They came here near the start of the 20th century in search of a better life. They left southeastern Europe. Two of them came from what one former POTUS would have called a “sh**hole country.” That would be Turkey, a mostly Muslim nation.

They came. They thrived. They produced their children, all of whom led productive lives; some of them served heroically on the battlefield during World War II; my dear Dad was one of them.

What separates immigrants from native-born Americans is one simple fact: All of them chose to come here. They weren’t granted U.S. citizenship merely as an act of fate, having been born here. They made conscious decisions to build new lives and to call the U.S.A. their “home.”

Someone needs to tell me, though, how many of those who seek to sneak into this country comprise the nefarious criminal element that a former president once said comprised most of them.

Immigrants have helped create this great nation. They should be honored, not vilified.

How much will it cost, governor?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The individual who preceded Joe Biden as president of the United States used to proclaim that “Mexico is going to pay for the wall.”

It didn’t happen. It won’t happen. Not ever.

Now we have the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, declaring his intention to build a wall along the state’s lengthy border with Mexico. He isn’t making the same preposterous claim that the ex-POTUS did. However, we need some specifics on this matter if it manages to survive the expected challenges to whether it is even constitutional for a state to assume a federal responsibility.

Texas border wall may not be feasible, or even legal | The Texas Tribune

How much will it cost, Gov. Abbott?

You see, the U.S. Constitution requires in the Fifth Amendment that the government provide “just compensation” for any private property seized for public use. Texas’s share of public land comprises a tiny fraction of its total land mass along the border, which will require the state to pay a whole lot of money it takes from private ownership. So, we have that expense.

As for the rest of the price tag, which would be bound to skyrocket as the state grapples with ways to erect a secure border, well, we haven’t heard a word from Gov. Abbott on how much that might cost you and me.

The state’s economy happens to be performing quite well in the wake of this COVID pandemic. However, we shouldn’t be asked to spend an unspecified amount of money to seal off our southern border from “hordes of criminals” who, in my view, do not exist.

Border wall? Not so sure, governor

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Call him the latest incarnation of the “Macho Man.”

Gov. Greg Abbott thinks he is going to take matters into his own hands by ensuring that Texas builds a wall along its entire border with Mexico. The details are to come later. If ever.

This one gives me trouble.

Why? Because border security is a national issue, not one left to states to determine individually. There well might be a constitutional issue involved with Texas deciding to go it alone in fencing off the state from its southern neighbor.

Texas governor says Texas will build its own border wall, leaves the details to later (yahoo.com)

I get that Abbott wants to arrest criminals who come here to do bad things. He made that point clear and in fact I happen to agree with that part of Gov. Macho Man’s proclamation. I don’t want to see the state infested with — in the words of the former POTUS — “rapists, murderers, drug dealers” either. Then again, there isn’t much evidence that such an infestation is occurring anyway with refugees fleeing their home countries in search of a better life in the Land of Opportunity.

Yahoo News reports: The ACLU of Texas disagreed. Abbott’s plan undermines the federal “right to seek asylum by jailing those fleeing danger and punishing them for seeking refuge in the U.S,” said ACLU staff attorney Kate Huddleston. “In this plan, Abbott is yet again scapegoating immigrants in an effort to distract from his own failures in governing and managing actual crises in Texas — like the historic winter storm that led to the deaths of more than 150 Texans — with cruel results.”

Abbott, of course, blames President Biden for the border crisis. Imagine that, eh? The governor well might seek to succeed the president in 2024, so he needs a campaign issue on which to run. It strains credulity to believe that none of this existed during Biden’s Republican predecessor’s term in office. It certainly did. Where was the criticism then? Hmm, governor?

Gov. Macho Man will need to strap on his flak vest and helmet as he takes incoming criticism from those who are going to question the wisdom of usurping what looks to be a federal job.

Border madness must be handled

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am going to concede that conditions on our nation’s southern border need attention, they need serious repair, they need an administration that is willing to get tougher than it has been so far.

A neighbor of mine is a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper who is leaving soon for a temporary-duty assignment southeast of Laredo.

He describes the situation on the border as “an out of control mess.”

My neighbor blames President Biden’s administration for it. He didn’t say so directly, but I believe he endorsed the Donald Trump administration policy of rounding up undocumented immigrants, fast-tracking their status while being held and then sending them back to the country from which they fled.

The Biden administration approach is more an “open border” matter. I reminded him that the border isn’t “open” and that Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are stopping illegal immigration every single day.

He acknowledged that but said that the Biden administration’s more tolerant policy is enticing people to flee to this country.

I get that Joe Biden has taken a dramatically different approach to undocumented immigration than the one used by his immediate predecessor. However, I will not accept the notion that our borders are “open” and available for anyone to enter this country.

My neighbor, though, is joining other DPS troopers to assist local and federal law enforcement officials in doing their job. He believes this DPS involvement will last a while, that the situation along our border is too grave to clear up over the short term.

He is a bright young man. I will accept his diagnosis of the problem.

However, I am going to swallow the hook that contends that an “open border policy” is to blame for it.

This matter needs a concerted federal and state effort to resolve. I am going to hold out hope that Gov. Greg Abbott will resist the temptation to hurl blame and insults and will get to working with the president and his team to resolve this matter.

POTUS calls it a ‘crisis’

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden calls the immigrant situation on our nation’s southern border a “crisis.”

Which it is. It has been one for several weeks. The Biden administration has been reluctant to call it such.

But … it is a crisis. Too many children have migrated to our border unaccompanied by their parents. They are filling up temporary shelters all along the border.

Look, I am not going to beat the hell out of President Biden because of his prior reluctance to label this matter a “crisis.” He’s done so. That’s good enough for me.

Now he needs to get busy with finding a solution.

If nothing else the president might be able to get his right-wing critics to muzzle their bloviating about it and start offering some suggestions for how to fix the problem.

‘W’ weighs in on immigration

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

George W. Bush has come alive, urging Congress to enact a policy he sought during his two terms as president of the United States.

The 43rd president wants a comprehensive immigration reform policy to be placed on the books.

I happen to be wholly in favor of the strategy that President Bush is seeking to enact.

Bush wrote an op-ed essay that the Washington Post published on Friday. According to Politico.com: “Over the years, our instincts have always tended toward fairness and generosity. The reward has been generations of grateful, hard-working, self-reliant, patriotic Americans who came here by choice,” Bush wrote. “If we trust those instincts in the current debate, then bipartisan reform is possible. And we will again see immigration for what it is: not a problem and source of discord, but a great and defining asset of the United States.”

... In his piece, Bush called for a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” increased border security, working with other countries to stem the root causes of migration as well a “modernized” asylum system and higher levels of legal immigration, “focused on employment and skills.”

Bush pushes immigration reform as GOP sidesteps a deal on it – POLITICO

To be sure, President Bush is getting resistance from fellow Republicans, particularly those who might seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. They adhere to the Donald Trump doctrine of “round ’em up deport all” of those who are here illegally. That includes the “Dreamers,” who were brought here as children when their parents sneaked into the country without proper immigration documents.

Bush has kept a low profile since leaving office in 2009. He told CBS News over the weekend that he doesn’t expect his public call for immigration reform to change many minds. He said he’s fine with that. However, the former president does lend an important voice to a critical issue.

As for Congress’s paralysis on immigration reform, Bush notes that Barack Obama and Donald Trump relied on executive action to seek movement on immigration. CBS’s Norah O’Donnell asked him what that means, to which President Bush responded: “All that means is that Congress isn’t doing its job,”

Immigrants make us great

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The most infuriating clause in the proposed America First caucus platform is the one that talks about what its adherents call “mass immigration.”

The so-called congressional caucus — pitched by far right wing conspiracy theorists and assorted loons in Congress — seeks to promote what they refer to as an “Anglo-Saxon culture.” Included in that is this despicable clause denigrating “mass immigration” from places I presume they mean do not fit the Anglo-Saxon stereotype.

I am a product of immigrants from southern Europe. All four of my grandparents chose to spend their lives in United States after moving here from Greece and Turkey. They were patriots. They worked hard. They played by the rules. They brought 10 children into this world among them. One of those children — my father — enlisted in the U.S. Navy on the very day that Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor and dragged this country into World War II.

The America First caucus does not understand or appreciate the tenet to which all patriotic Americans should subscribe, that the very essence of American greatness and its “unique” culture rests in the hearts of those who choose to come here. I mean no disrespect for native-born Americans; hell, I was born here, too.

I just take profound offense at those in Congress who suggest that immigration — and immigrants — are somehow bad for the country. They all seek to “make America great again” by closing our doors, erecting walls across our southern border and issuing some sort of merit-based standard for those seeking to build new lives in the Land of Opportunity.

Had there been such a standard in force at the turn of the 20th century, I doubt any of my grandparents would have been allowed to come here, allowed to marry and allowed to build their own families.

Am I offended by this America First caucus? You’re damn right I am.

This House seat has been hijacked

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Admittedly, my view of my former haunts up yonder on the West Texas Caprock is a bit jaded.

I arrived in Amarillo in January 1995 to begin a stint as editorial page editor of the Globe-News. The congressman for the region was taking his oath of office that same week. Mac Thornberry rode the Republican wave in the Contract With America election in 1994. He settled in quickly and became a quiet back-bench member of the new congressional majority comprising Republicans.

Thornberry is out of office now. He called it quits at the end of 2020 after a quarter century in Congress. His successor, Ronny Jackson, has assumed quite a different posture than the man he succeeded; I won’t say “replaced” because Jackson’s behavior so far doesn’t warrant that kind of accolade.

What I think we are witnessing in the 13th Congressional District of Texas is a boiled-down version of what has happened to the Republican Party. It has become the Party of Donald Trump. Jackson’s behavior, which includes multiple Twitter sniper shots daily, is indicative of that change.

Whereas the former congressman, Thornberry, would exercise some discretion, would be circumspect, wouldn’t seek to bloody the water, Jackson is an entirely different swamp creature.

It’s kinda like the way Trump acted during the time he served as president. You know?

Jackson has been ranting and railing against the border crisis, which he blames on President Biden’s alleged “open border” policy. He also has been bloviating and blustering about the Second Amendment to the Constitution, blaming Democrats of trying to “take your guns away” while they seek a legislative remedy to the spasm of gun violence that Biden has called — correctly! — an “international embarrassment.”

I sought out one of Thornberry’s closest aides this week, asking this staffer what Thornberry thinks of Jackson’s behavior. This aide responded, “Honestly, he doesn’t betray how he feels,” adding in a personal aside to me that “you know him” Well, I was not surprised to get the answer to that question. Still, I thought it was worth asking.

I am troubled by the representation my former neighbors in the Panhandle are getting from their member of Congress. I wonder if Rep. Jackson is going to settle down long enough to actually craft legislation that deals specifically with issues important to the constituents he now represents.

Oh, let me add that Rep. Jackson only moved into the district in time to run for the seat that Thornberry vacated. The congressman needs to bone up on the issues that matter.

He ought to take a break from his bluster to give thought to how he intends to represent the sprawling Texas congressional district.

Texas AG just can’t stop demagoguing border issue

(Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas’s twice-indicted attorney general has become a major-league demagogue regarding what is happening along our state’s border with Mexico.

Ken Paxton told Fox News today that “open borders” are costing the state billions of bucks each year.

There. It’s plain and simple, according to Paxton.

Ken Paxton: Open borders costing Texas billions of dollars (msn.com)

Except that the Texas AG is lying.

The border is not “open,” as he keeps suggesting to friendly media questioners who don’t have the nerve to question him.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has declared that our southern border is closed. I acknowledge that such a declaration hasn’t stopped the flood of immigrants coming into the country. The difference between the Biden administration and the Trump administration is that President Biden isn’t ordering the youngsters among the migrants to be turned back without their parents.

Many of them are being housed as we sit here in North Texas. Many more are expected.

I also will acknowledge that President Biden has a “crisis” on his hands, even though he refuses to call it such.

But … are the borders “open” in the manner that Ken Paxton and others on the right are suggesting? No. They are not!

As for Paxton, he is still awaiting trial on securities fraud allegations and he still is awaiting the outcome of a federal investigation into whether he took bribes while doing his duty as the state’s top law enforcement official. 

For the Texas AG to deflect attention from his own trouble is, shall we say, yet another disgrace.

Crisis requires urgent response

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden can dance around the use of certain words all he wants, but what he shouldn’t deny in his gut is the existence of a “crisis” on our southern border.

He used the word “thousands” today when describing the influx of immigrants from Latin America into the United States. He did not use the word “crisis” to describe what is happening there. However, that is what it is.

He said during his press conference day that more immigrants arrived at our southern border at a comparable period during the final year of the Donald Trump administration than so far during the Biden administration. He also said immigration officers are turning back the “overwhelming majority” of those who are fleeing their home countries.

As an American observer of these matters, though, I just grow weary of hearing politicians and their spokesmen and women shy away from what we all know to be true. The Biden administration has a crisis on its hands with regard to unaccompanied minors seeking entry into the United States. They need to call it what it is, not hide behind terms such as “challenge,” which is what press secretary Jen Psaki did the other day after letting slip that the administration is dealing with a “crisis” on the border.

It reminds me in a perverse way of how the Trump administration kept downplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic that began killing Americans each day. The docs called it a grave problem. Meanwhile, Donald Trump refused to acknowledge the brutal truth.

There’s a bit of that occurring now as President Biden seeks to dress up what is happening now. He is dealing with a crisis and he should call it what we all know to be occurring.