I am a citizen of the United States and I appreciate people are yearning to breathe free in America. But I am a citizen of the United States and want our laws enforced, our borders secured, and these illegal aliens — some not yearning to breathe free, but here with other motives — sent home.
I am also a citizen of the Kingdom of God. And I want these people, particularly the children, to know Christian charity and love and to go home understanding that we are willing for them to come — but to come legally and lawfully through secure borders.
What Glenn Beck is doing is the kind thing to do. He is using his own money, while calling on the government to enforce the law. Conservatives and Christians can both want American borders secured and our laws enforced. But we should also be willing to show personal and private grace, mercy, and charity to the many troubled souls who have come here as they have.
The Dallas judge who agreed to house 2,000 illegal children in the county said this to MSNBC:
“I think that people need to put their partisan politics aside. If you want to listen to a leader, go ask your faith leader what you should do in a situation where children are alone and feel abandoned and are terrified in overcrowded conditions; where there are thirty children in a glass holding cell, pressing their faces against the glass so they can see their brothers and sisters who are moved away from them; where there are babies crying for their mother while being changed by border patrol agents and it smells like body odor because the children aren’t bathed more than every few days. And ask yourself: what’s the right thing to do? What does your Bible tell you? What do the words on the Statue of Liberty tell you? What do your American values tell you? If we stop looking at these children as others and invaders and aliens and we look at them as children and as human beings, then we’ll know how to handle this humanitarian crisis.”
Beck’s critics are mad because, in theory, the more comfortable we make it for illegals to come, the more likely they are to make the trip. All markets respond to incentives and the illegal immigration market is no exception. How much incentive is he really adding, though, by sending soccer balls and candy bars or whatever to the border? The feds are providing most of the humanitarian relief while these kids are in BP custody and there’s no plausible presidential candidate from either party who’d change that. You could clone Ted Cruz, run him on both halves of the ticket, and the most draconian thing he’d end up doing would be to push Congress to bring back summary deportations by reversing the law that entitles kids to stay here while they’re awaiting a hearing. The fact that, right now, they can stay (“permiso”) is the core incentive. Beck may be increasing that incentive, but marginally. If you want to be mad at someone, be mad at the amnesty shills in the White House and Congress who refuse to change that law for political reasons. The thought that her kid can play with a Beck-brand soccer ball for a few hours after crossing the border before he’s put on a plane right back to Tegucigalpa isn’t going to encourage a mom in Honduras to hand her eight-year-old over to a coyote. Believing that he’ll have de facto amnesty if he makes it to Texas might.
A better knock on Beck, I think, is to say that he should be doing this in a low-key way. He has an enormous megaphone, and this week that megaphone’s being amplified by media segments like this one by admiring centrists and lefties. If that filters through to Mexican and Central American media, that rich Americans are mobilizing to help the kids coming across, it really might add some marginal extra incentive on whether to make the trip. Better to provide the aid under the radar so that it attracts less attention. But the answer to that, I guess, is that Beck’s aiming for more than just his own private donation here; he wants to inspire his listeners to be charitable too, and he wants it known for political purposes that even big-name righties who support stronger borders aren’t the heartless caricature that lefties make them out to be. That’s fine, but the price of that is the added incentive to cross the border. Let’s not kid ourselves.