In a Sunday editorial, U-T San Diego called the immigration protests this past week in Murrieta “understandable but ugly.” Understandable? Seriously?
Understandable? Seriously? No, there’s nothing understandable about a snarling, ignorant, xenophobic mob of extreme nationalists shouting at busloads of mothers and children and waving American flags as if shouting at busloads of mothers and children is what being American is truly about.
Ugly? That’s closer, but we’d choose an uglier word: Revolting. Repugnant. Disgusting. Vile. Sickening. Nauseating. Gross. The thesaurus is filled with appropriate words for what we saw. The U-T just needs to try harder.
A better description was found in the Chicago Tribune, where columnist Rex W. Huppke referred to what happened in Murrieta as yet another sign— along with nuts openly brandishing guns inside stores and restaurants and jackasses purposely belching black exhaust from their pickup trucks— of the “drunk uncle-ization of America.” Huppke’s point was that these “knuckleheads” comprise an extreme minority of Americans, but we’re letting them define us amid fervent media attention.
So, congratulations, Murrieta: Led by your loathsome Mayor Alan Long, you are this week’s shining example of the worst of what our country offers. Take a bow.
Perhaps even more galling than the protest was the fact that the United States government and police in Murrieta allowed a throng of rabid protesters to call the shots. Why weren’t people who were blocking the buses arrested for interfering with federal-law enforcement activities? How were they allowed to successfully turn back the vehicles? It blows the mind.
Well, at this point, if the Border Patrol has conceded defeat to these extremist freaks, it should do so. No more busloads of relief-seeking immigrants should be subjected to that kind of abuse, unadulterated hate and pathological lack of empathy.
On the other side of the spectrum from Murrieta and Mayor Long is Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who offered to take 2,000 unaccompanied immigrant children from overburdened Border Patrol facilities and put them up temporarily in more comfortable quarters. (In Texas, the county judge isn’t so much a judge as the chief executive of county government.) Jenkins is taking heat for using his act of goodwill as a political fundraising tool, but that was after he was attacked for it, and we have no problem with anyone using a good deed in a reelection campaign.
You know what we’d like to see? San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer following suit. Several hundred immigrants have already been transported from Texas to San Diego for processing as they wend their way through the system toward an asylum hearing before a judge. Faulconer should offer to take as many as we can find unused facilities for and enlist more help from the nonprofit advocacy groups that are already trying to make life a bit more tolerable for these kids and the relatively few adults who have accompanied some of them.
By doing so, Faulconer can lend more credence to the notion that he’s a new kind of California Republican—one who’ll do the right thing and won’t pander to frothing, anti-immigrant zealots. At the risk of helping the Republican Party with its serious Latino-voter problem, this would be one way to mitigate the damage of 30 years of scorched-earth anti-Latino policy advocacy. We’d even allow him to use it to court independents in mailers and fundraising emails.
Let’s back up a second: These are not adults just sneaking into the country in hopes of making a buck and taking advantage of our services—although the hope of a better life was long a hallmark of immigration to the United States. As detailed in the Vox report that Huppke referenced, these are children fleeing violence in Central America (do the Murrieta loudmouths even know where that is?) and risking their lives (sometimes dying) and facing sexual exploitation during perilous journeys through Mexico, mostly with plans to turn themselves in to authorities should they make it safely across our border.
Ask yourself how bad conditions must be in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador for children to leave their homes and their families and travel more than 1,500 miles.
We can debate how open our country should ultimately be to these human beings. We can debate whether to make it harder for them to get across the line. We can debate what to do with them if they manage to get in. But for goodness’ sake, can we just treat them with some dignity and kindness while they’re here? Honestly, they’ve earned it.
What do you think? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.