Category: Archive

A lost year

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

As a scene in the broader backdrop that is today’s immigration mess this was not exactly a standout.
Just one Irish guy, now on his way back home, barred from returning to America for three or ten years, depending on the length of his undocumented time in America.
Sure, it’s not the end of the world for him, but it’s the end of an American life he was trying to live under great duress and difficulty.
Had Congress succeeded in passing even a degree of immigration reform last year this guy might have had a chance.
But in common with the undocumented Irish in general, he was living a day to day existence, one that came to an abrupt end when the border patrol got on the bus.
Does America gain or lose from this? We would argue that America has just lost. Just a tiny little bit mind, but it’s a loss just the same.
Far from Buffalo, across the industrial states of the Midwest and out onto the prairies of the Dakotas, we have witnessed yet another story, another drama of a single life, that of Father Cathal Gallagher, a priest serving three parishes in and beyond the town of De Smet, a town famous in pioneering lore.
Will Father Gallagher’s expulsion from the United States serve good purpose? Again, we would argue that it would not.
Twelve months ago we appeared to be on the brink of a legislative breakthrough on immigration, a deeply divisive and emotive issue to be sure.
Both Congress and the president appeared to be of one mind. Something, anything, needed to be done to address both a crisis of control at the nation’s borders and a social crisis within those borders as a result of millions of people being forced to live in the shadows.
So much has changed, both in social and economic terms. As the economy heads south, it’s a fair bet that many illegal and undocumented will do so as well.
They will head east, north and westwards too. They will bring with them their many individual shares of U.S. economic activity, their skills, energy and determination.
And they will bring with them their future stories, ones that will be played out in other lands.
Are we winning something here? If we are it’s hard to quantify or assess in any tangible way.
Either way, by sitting on our hands and failing to legislate for much of anything we are losing control as much as we are supposedly enforcing it.
America is, by its nature, a dynamic place. Inertia ill becomes us. Just because this is a general election year doesn’t mean that Washington should take a year-long time out on an issue that invites bold and imaginative solutions.
But maybe we have just hit the nail on the head with those two adjectives. It’s been a lost year indeed.

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