WITH THE RECENT announcement from Gov. Abbott that Texas is planning to take matters into states' hands and build a fence to combat illegal immigration, it's really gotten me thinking about our country and its divisiveness once again. Why does everything have to be a left vs. right argument — or a CNN vs. FOX argument? Will there ever be a time that we are working together as one country, one people? Even when a topic seems so obvious to me, such as illegal immigration, I find it bizarre that our citizens find a way to attack each other's values rather than work together to solve a disastrous crisis.
Regardless of what side of the political spectrum you are on, how can any rational human argue that it's OK for our country to allow 180,000 illegal aliens across our border in the month of May alone? We have immigration laws that allow people from around the globe to settle here — legally. Our country is a melting pot of immigrants, myself included. It's how we were formed, and it's why we thrive. But laws are put into place to keep order over chaos. And, my friends, we are at a moment of pure chaos. Not to mention, I don't think it's a coincidence that crime in Houston is at an all-time high while drug and human traffickers are coming in by the thousands. FBI Director Christopher Wray has openly admitted that "there is no question cartel activity is spilling over the border."
The cartel and sex traffickers are rampant. In March alone, 18,000 unaccompanied minors came across the border. And according to a New York Post article, one expert estimates that "60 percent of Latin American children who set to cross the border alone or with smugglers have been caught by the cartels and are being abused in child pornography or drug trafficking."
I've read that pressure is being put on border agents by the administration to release unaccompanied minors into the country within 72 hours. Many times they end up in foster care and lured into a life of prostitution and sex trafficking. And some are coaxed by cartel members before they even leave their country to come to the U.S. Criminals are posing as the parents of some children and without DNA tests being performed, there is no way to check.
"It's both heartbreaking and unthinkable what is happening with illegal immigrants of all ages and sex," says Laura Davenport, a member of the Houston 20, an organization dedicated to ending the child sex trade in Houston. "The numbers definitely have increased exponentially for sex and human trafficking. They are just waiting for them ... waiting to entice them with a false life. It's a big business and it's run as such."
I have friends with ranches in South Texas who literally watch starving trespassers jumping their fences after swimming over the river to what they think is an opportunity to secretly infiltrate our society illegally. And they just keep heading north up to big cities like Houston to get lost in the population. Some may be refugees seeking a better life, and some are criminals, pure and simple. Indeed, bail issues and overcrowded prisons also play a huge role in the crime inflation, but this massive influx is adding fuel to the fire. At least once a week I have direct acquaintances tell stories of armed home invasions, parking lot hijacking or drug incidences and deaths. And all of these instances occur in what many consider to be safe neighborhoods in Houston.
Nobody wants to separate children from families. And nobody wants to stop law-abiding citizens from joining our country safely and lawfully. But doesn't something have to be done about the exorbitant influx? Something like 1.2 million illegal aliens are expected to be encountered crossing the border this year. And that doesn't even include the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens that sneak by successfully. How can that be allowed? We can't just move to another country without going through legal channels.
Has there ever been a time in American history when our borders were allowed to be completely open like now? Nobody is saying "don't come." What I hear is, "Come legally and through the proper channels," just like you have to do in every other country in the world. I'm not sure why that's a lot to ask.
Regardless of whether you wear red or blue during election time, I can't help but feel blessed that we have a governor who is addressing this problem head on. Although immigration is historically a federal operation, Abbott announced during a Border Security Summit that "Texas will not sit idly as this crisis grows."
The border surge is a crisis that is affecting our entire country. But since Houston is one of the largest cities in the South, I desperately worry about its future. It's time that we come together and work toward successful immigration reform and get our country, our state and our city back on track.