Trucking illegals has turned tragic again. You’ve seen the gruesome news.
You’ve also seen Republicans racing to blame the Democrat in the White House. The blamers have been unsympathetic to the victims. They’ve also been unwilling to admit they’ve contributed to the problem.
To their shame, they’ve also been — no surprise here — silent about the sad fact that the same thing has happened on Republican watches in the past. The real blame belongs squarely on the shoulders of what has been a do-nothing Congress.
That smuggling illegals has become big business for organized criminals in Latin America and the U.S. is not news. Nor is it news that trucking illegals has gained favor with the predators.
The U.S.-Mexico border is the world’s busiest land crossing. Over 17,000 trucks and 300,000 people enter the U.S. there daily.
When efforts by the U.S., Mexico and other countries to stop human trafficking became more determined and more sophisticated in the early 1990s, trucks became the favored means of smuggling immigrants. That was, of course, a recipe for disaster.
That disaster struck Houston, Texas, in 2003. Republican George W. Bush was president when 18 illegals between the ages of 7 and 91 were found dead or dying in an abandoned truck trailer. Officers responding to the scene found over 100 people in the trailer.
In an eerily similar tragedy, 10 illegals were found dead in the back of a semi-trailer in the parking lot of a San Antonio Walmart. That was in 2017, during the administration of President Donald Trump.
There have been other ugly scenes. They’re what happens when desperate people flee the real violence of gangs, organized crime and crushing poverty to get to a safer place.
Twelve years ago, I was assured by folks in Power County that Congress was finally going to do something about our broken immigration system. A fix was, and is, important to the operators of large farms because they rely heavily on immigrants to fill lower-wage jobs.
Power County growers said members of Idaho’s Republican congressional delegation had assured them a rational update to America’s immigration laws was in the works at last. Their optimism, sadly, was unfounded.
It’s been 36 years since any immigration law of substance has made it through Congress. That law criminalized hiring the undocumented.
Millions of illegals live in the U.S. Congress has accomplished nothing to deal with that reality.
There is a crying need for comprehensive reform of our immigration laws. Congress made its last serious attempt at that in 2007.
After months of work and 32 votes the bill died. Then-Sen. Joe Biden voted for the legislation. Idaho Republicans Mike Crapo and Larry Craig joined the slim majority that voted to kill it.
The advantages that bless us are powerful magnets for migrants. We have peace and prosperity in a world facing a climate crisis, growing hunger, wars, crime and poverty.
The blamers crying that Biden has an “open” border policy spew exaggerated lies. If we had an open border, people wouldn’t be crowding into semi-trailers to evade customs patrols and checkpoints. We don’t have an open border.
What we do have is a Congress that needs to act now to reform our immigration laws. It’s too simplistic to believe the best law passed in Washington, D.C., will solve all border issues but it would be a start.
In the meantime, people are dying to get here by all the wrong ways. Can you blame them for trying, though? As one person put it, “If you decide that the best thing you can do for your family is pile into a truck with 50 other people, things are pretty bad.”
Dave Finkelnburg is a long-time Idahoan, a former newspaper journalist, and is currently semi-retired from an engineering career.