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Sat, March 23

Cantlon: A balanced solution to asylum, and we get played again

There’s an article on immigration that is informative and gives solid steps that could improve things in a balanced way. It’s “How to fix the crisis caused by Central American asylum seekers — humanely,” on The author has worked as general counsel for bothImmigration and Naturalization and Homeland Security. He was part of a team that got things under control during a surge in asylum seekers in the 90s. If your going to be expressing your opinion about immigration and asylum you really ought to have what’s in this piece.

The crude public debate on the topic has followed a familiar pattern. Democratic leadership should be making the loudest issue out of the need for broad changes that return us to an economy much like during the 1950s to 1970s; an economy that prioritized ordinary people and worked very well for them. (Well, for white guys. A return to it would need to work well for all.) It would be a call for changes that would appeal to the left and a good few on the right.

But Democratic leaders are not aggressive about that, so the news vacuum gets filled with side issues. The right regularly offers inflammatory things to get riled about, like some candidates who are friendly with supremacist groups, or state legislators trying to keep dark money dark. Sometimes it’s because they just get carried away, and sometimes it is specifically to create a row and control the topic of the day.

Separating mothers and babies rightly should be protested, and I have, but it distracts from more fundamental change. Again, because of deficient leadership on the left, when these issues pop up they don’t have a well-defined message or clear description of a solution. So whoever a reporter puts their mic in front of at a rally, and whatever they say, that becomes the message of the moment, whether it’s clear or well-crafted or not.

Or someone writes a piece saying Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be abolished and “Abolish ICE” becomes the cry. It’s a message those on the right easily spins as if the left wants no control of the border at all. The actual idea is that ICE, which is separate from Border Patrol, is so messed up it should be abolished and its functions rebuilt from scratch. No one I know wants to end all enforcement of the border, but what does the leadership of the left expect when they leave such a message vacuum?

So the pattern repeats. The right offers bait. The left takes it. The right spins that. The core issues get ignored.

If you want to step outside that crazy cycle, read the article recommended.

One point the article doesn’t get to is that we, the U.S., are responsible for a lot of the refugee crisis globally. We are by no means alone in that, but our meddling in the Middle East, going back many decades, long before invading Iraq, helped create chaos there. Our war on drugs and how we militarized it in southern countries, and how it creates a market for drug cartels, added to it. Climate change will be displacing many coastal populations and adding to it. We’d better get an adult handle on this. The article might help.

Tom Cantlon is a local business owner and writer and can be reached at comments at


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