Last Monday, the bodies of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, were discovered in the Rio Grande. At once the tragic deaths of a father seeking a better life for his daughter were thrust into the national spotlight as partisan evidence against the current administration.
Response to such a tragedy is a measure of one’s humanity, not political bias. As a father with three very young daughters and a 9-month-old son, I couldn’t help but see the bodies of my own little ones when I saw the photo. My eyes filled with tears of empathy for the Ramirez family.
The most compassionate response is finding a solution to prevent it from happening again. When asked about the tragedy, President Trump replied, “I hate it, and it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the laws.” He’s right, you know.
Like all Republicans, I fully support and embrace legal immigration. I worked hard to learn Spanish fluently so I could dedicate years of my life living with and serving my Latino brothers and sisters abroad.
The United States has a population of more than 372 million, with nearly twice that number currently living below us in Central and South America. Many of these countries are collapsing. There absolutely must be a better system of lawful immigration into our country for any of those 600 million people who wish to become American citizens. This latest tragedy is evidence of that.
President Trump has proposed one such solution: a secure southern border, including a wall. I won’t make this another article about why walls work, because federal agents charged with protecting our southern border have made that argument many times already, and I trust their first-hand experience and expertise.
Instead, I want to highlight that the reluctance of many Democrats to secure our border once and for all is only going to increase the probability of more deaths like Oscar and Valeria Ramirez.
In his book “Good to Great,” author Jim Collins writes about something he calls “The Stockdale Paradox,” named after Admiral Jim Stockdale, a prisoner-of-war camp survivor during the Vietnam War. Collins interviewed Stockdale about why he survived when so many others in his camp did not.
Collins asked, “Who didn’t make it out?” Stockdale replied, “Oh, that’s easy, the optimists.” He explained: “The optimists were the ones who said ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
Stockdale then turned to Collins and said: “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
To me, a solid and secure border (including a wall) dashes all hopes of people hoping to cross our borders illegally. It forces immigrants to accept the “brutal facts” of America’s lawful immigration process so that they either come in the right way, or not at all.
The only people lining up to get into Disneyland each day are people who have gone through the proper steps of obtaining a ticket. The number of people trying to sneak into the “happiest place on earth” illegally last year was zero, because Disneyland doesn’t tolerate people trying to skirt their systems of entry and their preventative measures are sufficiently adequate.
Imagine if Disneyland were letting many people in for free and advertising that to not do so was inhumane. Suppose as well that they advertised that even people who didn’t get in for free would still be provided with Disneyland services and care just outside of the theme park. People would come in droves.
As absurd of an analogy as that is, I bring it up because that’s what many Democrats desire. They publicly condemn any talk of securing our border as “inhumane,” while allocating billions of dollars, not to fund long-term solutions, but to provide better short-term living conditions for migrant detention centers that wouldn’t be full if our border was secure. I agree that conditions of those centers must be improved, but we need permanent solutions, not debate one-liners written for maximum applause.
Promising a warm reception for illegal immigrants isn’t compassion, it’s a cruel invitation that’s guaranteed to give false hope to millions of people. Real compassion is proving once and for all that our border is absolutely secure; that no one is coming in illegally, that any dangerous attempts to do so are futile. Accepting such a reality might have helped Oscar Ramirez choose a better way.