By Maj. Gen. Jerry R. Curry, US Army (Ret.)
Leaders on both sides of the political aisle insist that America’s problems are too difficult and too complex to comprehensively solve. This presumes that the American people are ignorant. But our nation was founded by people who welcomed difficult, complex challenges. Otherwise how could a hodgepodge of colonies defeat the world’s largest and strongest military power?
Clearly our founders were not afraid of or unable to work their way through the world’s greatest complexities. At the same time they were able to carve out and establish the world’s most far reaching democratic institutions of government.
Today’s leaders demonstrate that they only have enough political will and strength to kick the can down the road. Why then, America’s citizens wonder, are we spending so much money on education? Is it only to train and raise up leaders who are unable to handle the complexities of today?
Thank God today’s leaders were not among those tilling the Mayflower across the Atlantic or erecting the stockade at Jamestown. Since solving problems like out of control immigration seem too difficult for our current crop of political leaders, it is time we Americans voted them out of office and replaced them with a fresh group of complex, problem solving leaders who will both stand for and do what is right. There is no problem that America faces that is unsolvable. If God is for us, who can successfully stand against us?
What prevents the nation from finding solutions to its problems is not complexity or difficulty, but a lack of presidential and congressional leadership plus the will to succeed. For example, take the immigration problem. Though in the end the problem may require a comprehensive solution, at the beginning if it is separated into its individual parts, one size fits all.
Most reasonable people agree that the illegal infiltrating of immigrants, criminals and terrorists into the United States across our southern border must first be brought under control before the broader immigration problem can be solved. Only then can the disposition of an estimated twelve million or so immigrants who have illegally infiltrated across our border and who have illegally taken up residence, be dealt with.
Also to be dealt with is the building of a wall. This is not the only place in the world where a wall has been built by nations to keep people in or out. The night of August 12, 1961, the German people went to bed as usual. When they woke the next morning they discovered that overnight, while they had been sleeping, the Russians and the East Germans had erected a ninety-seven mile long wall separating East from West Berlin.
The American people know that if using the technology existing at that time a hundred mile long Berlin Wall could be erected overnight, then surely, using current technology America’s southern border could be secured in something under a month.
The President should call the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the White House for a meeting of the minds. There the President should say, “Gentlemen, this is a matter of National Security. You are to secure the nation’s southern border within ninety days, [pick your time frame]. If you can’t do the job, then outsource it to the Russians. They didn’t have a problem doing it fifty years ago.”
Then there is the part of the solution that deals with the eleven or so million immigrants that are illegally living in the U.S. Only a fool would think a Congress that can’t even craft a workable Health Care Plan can craft a successful comprehensive immigration reform act. A successful immigration solution would have to come in stages. First, the border would have to be secured along lines similar to those mentioned above.
Next, we should give up on the idea of staging an illegal immigrant round up of millions of illegals, and herding them back across the border as in a Hollywood Western. We have to accept the fact that it will be a slow process and will take a very long time.
Start with those illegals who, for various reasons, are currently waiting in US prisons or detention facilities. By order of the President they would be taken to the nearest border crossing, headed south and released. Those who because of the serious nature of their crimes should not be released would remain in the criminal justice system.
Slowly add to these new offenders, those involved in the commission of current crimes. If they have or are in the process of committing serious crimes they too would continue to be processed through the criminal justice system. Those who are arrested in the act of committing a minor crime, such as running a red light, would be released into Mexico at the nearest border crossing, provided they have no other criminal record or one that contains only minor offenses.
The American people know that the nation’s problems are not too difficult and complex to solve. They know that the real problem is a lack of leadership and willpower both in the Congress and in the White House. They believe that were the border patrol, other law enforcement agencies, and the military given maximum flexibility the nation’s immigration problems would have long since been solved.
Jerry Curry is a retired Army Major General, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Carter administration; Acting Press Secretary to the Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration; and Administrator of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration in the Bush Sr. administration.