A few days after Yoder and I spoke, McClatchy reporter Franco Ordonez broke the story that the Department of Homeland Security was scouting out military bases to warehouse children who arrived at the border without parents.
According to the reporting, more than 10,000 migrant children are being held at 100 government-controlled shelters, which are near current capacity.
Congress is set to vote on broad immigration packages next week. Yoder believes that something positive and bipartisan can happen this summer on immigration reform if both Democrat and Republicans give a bit.
He conceded that the U.S. needs more legal routes for people to arrive. Visas for necessary low-skilled, often seasonal labor are extremely limited, a problem that Congress could address.
Yet, like many members of the GOP, up a policy knob.
The Trump administration, for example, appears to believe that if we just treat people awfully enough — say, by stealing their children from them and locking them up like wild animals — they will stop arriving.
What that doesn’t take into account is the massive violence and dire poverty they are fleeing in the first place. Very few Central Americans ever achieve the goal of gaining legal entry through asylum, and yet they keep coming.
Yoder wants to be a powerful advocate for civility, for finding common ground. Commendably, he has done much in that regard in recent years, often joining forces with his Democratic counterpart across a Midwestern state line, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri.
He pointed out that passing some more reasonable and frankly humane laws, carve-outs that address only certain categories of immigrants without addressing enforcement, will be met with a veto from Trump. The president will have to be served up some portion of his wall and funds for border security measures in order to get a legislative solution for the Dreamers, people who arrived as children without legal status years ago.
That’s a reality. And it is one that Yoder presents well.
It’s also his challenge.
Because everyone, whatever their political party, has a moral responsibility to stand up against what is wrong. All the more so when it’s someone else’s children, people whose plight will be determined thousands of miles away in the halls of Congress.
Writes for Tribune Content Agency.