You can’t give what you don’t have

Night after night we are bombarded with stories on TV concerning the Southwest border, now inundated with kids, apparently fled their homes in Central America requesting entry to the United States as Refugees. Who can look at these kids without compassion?  What is to come from this new exodus?

Years ago, in the 1970s, I worked as a staff researcher for the US House Joint Select Committee on Population. The Committee members and their staffs were from both sides of the aisle.  Although I was hired by a Conservative Republican, I was at the apex of my über liberal period. Assigned to the Immigration task force, I argued with everyone, especially my big boss, whose name I won’t drop, but he is one of the leading experts on Immigration. Like me, he was a Demographer, however, while my Master’s degree came from Georgetown, he was a Rhodes scholar.

One evening, and I can’t remember how it happened, he and I were alone in his office, everyone else having departed for the day. We got into a long lengthy discussion about US immigration, both legal and illegal.  The long and the short of it was he convinced me mathematically, that the United states cannot absorb the world’s excess population.  So, the country must be selective about who can come to these United States.  We must follow rules.

Mr Obama opened the floodgates when he broke he rules a few months ago, via his “Dream Act.” Now the Southwest border is inundated with other people’s children who want to enter the US without playing by the rules.  If they are allowed to stay, and if history is a clue, they will manage to stay, the Federal government won’t deal with the fallout, states and localities will.

This is the problem with Washington, from the perspective of many localities.  The federal government issues a policy, and the repercussions hit the states, cities, towns, etc.

Recall that many states and localities are already struggling financially.  If you have forgotten this fact, think of Detroit.  So where will the money for these kids come from?  Property taxes?  Local sales taxes?  The federal government is struggling to pay its own bills.  The ACA isn’t fully funded.  The Army is downsizing to cut costs, leaving thousands unemployed. The VA can’t take care of those who remain.

You can’t give what you don’t have.

Imagine you have a full house and are struggling to feed and clothe your own children. Your aging parent lives with you. Your local community is struggling to find the funds to restore or rebuild your local school.  But your community is on the skids from the last housing crises.  Property tax rates are soaring, but the value of property is dropping, so the funds are scarce. You can’t move, because you can’t sell.  Your job is threatened because your source of employment is failing.  A dismal situation right?  But this example is the type of community where immigrants, both legal and illegal often flock.  (you don’t think these kids will end up in gated communities do you?)  And it is the type of community where federal funds should be directed if they existed, but they don’t.

Not without robbing Peter to pay Paul.

You can’t give what you don’t have. So what are you willing to sacrifice?



20 thoughts on “You can’t give what you don’t have

  1. I am not a “bleeding heart” and I know there are no easy answers but I think we can all sacrifice more than we are. In my area it is the ones with the least that are giving the most.


    • As both of us were demographers we were well aware of any benefits from LEGAL Immigration. We were discussing larger issues associated with ILLEGAL immigration. I spent my career on this topic and am certain I know more about it than you do, just as you know more about NYC than I do.

      And just who makes the sacrifice? Certainly not any of us tucked up safely on the East Coast. And thus was it ever in American politics.


  2. This year, illness has left me less robust than usual, so I am sorry I have no answers – the same problem is occurring all over the world as people run from oppressive regimes. I just don’t know what will happen in the future. Keep asking the questions though – you are brave to confront the hard things.


  3. You boss all those years ago was right stating the U.S. doesn’t have the resources to support all the needy of the world. Lost in the debate, it seems, is that we receive one million legal immigrants every year. That’s enough to more than cover our fertility deficit. And that’s all the immigrants we should welcome.


  4. I don’t know how to respond to this in a brief fashion without getting upset about it so I will wish you a speedy recovery for your knee and see you when you are back online again…


    • Thank you Michelle. Yes, this is a difficult situation for everyone. We want the answers to be easy, but issues in real life don’t resolve themselves like they do in the black and white world of the movies.


  5. I do sincerely have compassion in my heart for these children. Not sure what the answers are, but I agree with everything you stated. I don’t think it’s fair to the ones who are playing by the rules, sacrificing and paying big bucks to be here legally. Very heartbreaking situation.


    • There probably are no good answers, but often we must do the thing that causes the least pain for the most, beginning with our own. In other words act for the greater good. Truman did it, so did Eisenhower. Those guys who died at Normandy sacrificed thir own lives so that others could live.

      We have limited resources to act. And yes there are thousands of people playing by the rules…what about them?


  6. But..;.visually we have built ourselves a Berlin Wall. It’s a truly frightening thing to see it. Nuff said.

    That’s a Herman Miller chair. If you google Herman Miller, note they are having a sale. They seem very successful to me who only tried his for half an hour because he couldn’t sit in mine any longer. LOL


  7. Good, helpful analysis . . . still and all, it’s hard to turn away a child who turns up sick and hungry at your door. But I keep wondering (maybe you can help me out here) where is Mexico in all this? The refugees aren’t traveling across 2000 miles of Mexico without some aid and abetment. Doesn’t Mexico have some obligation too?


  8. Beautifully stated, Dianne. This should be an op-ed in the Times. Bleeding hearts don’t want to hear these cold, hard facts, however. Then when these communities you speak of start to go under they will be the first ones to say, “Where is our government? How could they let this happen to these Americans?”


    • Thanks Al…nothing steams me more than those who are so blind because they will not see what is in front of them. I wrote a message to Mark Warner suggesting the $$ (fictitiously appropriated…monopoly dollars?) be sent to the States.. Of course the border also must be closed to illegal traffic, but that won’t happen anytime soon.


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