Helping is Happiness (Even at the Border)

Over 10 million refugees find themselves in centers and camps all over the world (or worse, on their own). But not here. We demand other countries and the United Nations provide safe haven for those fleeing violence – as long as it isn’t to our country. At best, refugees fleeing to the U.S. can hope they’re granted asylum before they’re slaughtered in their home countries. I’m sure that’s a pretty anxious wait.

The crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border is a great time for reflection on this matter. In no way will there be FEMA camps (OMG! The UN and FEMA in one post, someone call Alex Jones on me!) set up for these children, many of whom it seems should be given some sort of asylum — or at least the opportunity to appeal for it before an immigration judge. The United Nations will never send blue helmets over to run camps or do anything else until the American people call for them — and then they’ll be ineffective and pointless bystanders, just like everywhere else they operate.

If only due to ideology and, thus, policy, there will never be a well-run refugee camp in the U.S. There won’t even be real refugee camps, with the freedom of movement and personal quarters afforded such camps’ residents. But if the federal government and border states (since the ones like Texas are so interested in getting in the border control business) could provide adequate — or better — services to the children fleeing violence in their homeland, they may just end up facing a little hostility about lack of such services inside their own states and country. But, let’s be honest, we wouldn’t even do as well as Turkey.

City Councilwoman Heidi Thiess of League City, Texas, which recently barred any undocumented immigrant children from staying the city, puts succinctly what worries conservatives most. The resolution, of course, is completely unconstitutional, and the city knows it. It’s merely symbolic.

“We’re not able to take care of our own veterans? We can’t take care of our own homeless and indigents here?” Ms. Thiess, a 43-year-old business owner, said, adding that the resolution was directed at the federal government, not at the immigrants. “But we are apparently ready to print money to take more from taxpayers to take care of an influx of hundreds of thousands of people who are illegal here who think they’re going to get a free pass.”

Currently, the argument is used to oppose housing the refugees — which I find a bit inhumane. We have an immigration system for a reason. Let it work. But, were we to have a functioning refugee camp system, the same argument would be made for increasing social and infrastructure benefits to American citizens. Interesting how that argument cuts both ways.

In a column in today’s The New York Times, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, Arthur C. Brooks, urged people to abandon their materialism and uninterrupted smartphone use and find happiness in the only true place one can find happiness: by being with people and by reflecting about oneself and the world. (How can I agree with a guy from the AEI on something? Well, I never said I was some hardcore leftist. And, aside from his nods to “traditional family” and faith, I can use the helpful aspects of the column.)

At one point he writes, “Love people, not things.” He says we often have it the other way around. I think now is a time for us to put that to work. To show our community, to love people and use our things to give them shelter, compassion, food, empathy and clothing. We can do more. We shouldn’t let an ideology allow us abandon humans to a deadly fate.

We’d want as much if we were in their situations.

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