Saturday, November 22, 2014

The tale of two walls

In 1999, a Turkish comedy was made named Propaganda. It tells a story loosely based on something that happened in 1948. An officer is ordered to put up a wall along the border between Syria and Turkey. But that border runs directly through the center of his town. The officer puts up the wall anyway. He quickly tears the town apart. He splits up lovers, parents and children, brothers and sisters, neighbors and employees from the places that they work.
In 2014, another comedy was written. This time a wall was not put up, but rather torn down.
On Thursday, in a prime time speech, Barak Obama released his new immigration plan that has been looming for months if not years on the political horizon. Recent efforts for overhaul have failed, including the bipartisan Gang of Eight proposal, released within days of the Boston Bombing, which was unable to muster enough support to get out of congress.
The president promised that if congress did not fix immigration soon, he would sign an executive order doing it himself. He did add, however, that if congress ever does decide to act, their action would take the place of his.
The president’s plan, as outlined in his speech, calls for the granting of “deferred action” to the parents of undocumented immigrants, or illegal aliens, that have either come here since 2010, or been here legally for five years, or are actual US Citizens. A background check will also be done, and criminals will still be deported.
This group could comprise up to an estimated 5,000,000 people. That is still, however, less than half of an estimated 11,000,000 illegal aliens that are here in the United States right now. The president also promised that the border would be tightened, saying that if someone was planning on coming here illegally in the future “your chances of getting caught just went up.”
The president, in his speech reminded everyone that America is a nation of immigrants, and that the scripture bids us to be kind to the neighbor that is within our gates. And to congress, Obama said, if they disagree, or if they doubt his authority to sign this executive order, he had three words. “Pass a bill.”
The Republicans, the up and coming majority party in America, the party that just took over the senate and by the numbers has every chance of winning the White House in two years, are not happy. Not happy at all. They warned the president not to take any drastic action that might “poison the well” before they could get to Washington. Now he may have done just that. Obama urged them not to make this single act of his a deal breaker on cooperation. But the Republicans are incensed.
Barak Obama has just dealt his party another blow. Of course, they must back the most recent actions of their president, but that does not mean they have to like it. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat, has already said he is against this move. And a lot of other people are to. The supposed best hope of the Democrats, Hillary Clinton, now has to back another unpopular move by Barak, and so hurt her name even more. But even more important than Hillary's name is the damage that this most recent executive action may do American industry and jobs.
In America, now, we have around 5,000,000 new faces that can come out of the shadows. One of the largest sudden granting’s of authenticity in this way, of people that already live among us, perhaps since Ancient Rome. What that means for our economy, for our way of life, and how America views itself and is viewed by others, is, of course, yet to be determined. But this is, in effect, the tearing down of a wall. And the effects of that demolition, for good or for bad, will be jarring. Massively jarring.

Andrew C. Abbott

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