For example, representatives discussed amending the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes.
Along the way they considered an amendment to the Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939, this with a view to revising the requirements for labeling of certain wool and cashmere products.
Many and varied is the work of the House. And much of it is both noble in intent, and necessary for the betterment of our country.
But we’re not so sure about H.R. 6061, the Secure Fence Act. This piece of legislation mandates a 700-mile physical fence along the border with Mexico and an additional “virtual fence” for the rest of the frontier.
Moving from horses and sheep to human beings may be part and parcel of legislative business, but erecting fences to keep people out is not the way that democratic neighbors should go about their affairs.
First up though, it should be made plain that we have no issue with the principle of the U.S. gaining control of its borders, land, sea and air.
And we want to see Mexico do a much better job of securing jobs and opportunities for its young people so they don’t become so desperate as to risk life and limb in the desert, or at the hands of ruthless people smugglers known as “coyotes.”
That said, the orderly passage of people back and forth across the border has to be in the long-term advantage of both nations.
This is a process that could take some years.
Erecting a fence, meanwhile, is only dodging the real and long-term work. And besides, anything short of a lethal barrier will not stop desperate people for very long. The Berlin Wall couldn’t do it and neither will a fence.
If the fence does go ahead, those who are serious about dealing with the issue of the illegal and undocumented should simultaneously set about a process of initiating truly comprehensive immigration reform.
This will involve not just a bipartisan effort in Congress, but the sincere and sustained participation of the Mexican government, whatever party is in power.
Such reform, of course, will have a direct effect on others, not least the undocumented Irish who are effectively facing a fence from inside the U.S. when what they really need is a bridge.
The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform is joining a national call-in to Congress today.
The idea is to persuade legislators to tackle the broader issue and not confine immigration reform to border control alone.
The group’s website, www.irishlobbyusa.org, carries advice and information on how to take part in the call-in and the campaign for reform in general.