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The Lesson of Rafting ?

03/16/2021

For three straight years, during her Spring Break, I took my daughter rafting down the Rio Grande River and often witnessed Mexicans crossing the river into our nation.  Once, in Santa Elena Canyon, they even fired at us, as we floated by them.  At night, we often slept on the Mexican side of the river, if that bank was higher and dryer than the U.S side.  My daughter learned just how different her world would have been, if she had been born on the wrong side of the river.

Existentialists tend to view debate as comparative absurdities.   The intractable problem of immigration on our southern border is such an example.  It is not about right or wrong to us.  On one side of the river, big strong Uncle Sam huffs and puffs, demanding our laws be respected.  On the other side of the river, peasants plead for opportunity and food for their children.  If I was a poor peasant, I would argue my children are more important than your laws.  (Sure, there are some bad guys among them, they’re always around everywhere, but that’s the job of ICE to keep them out.)

Lawyers point to the argument that a landowner cannot maintain “an attractive nuisance” without protecting other people.  That’s why homeowners must put a fence around their pool, to keep neighborhood kids from drowning.  That argument provided the philosophical logic for Trump’s Wall, ignoring the different motivations between fun-loving kids who want to swim and desperate parents who want a better future.  The United States is an “attractive nuisance” to the poor and the desperate.

Sympathetic as I am to the peasants, I still pray that Biden doesn’t throw the border wide open, as Americans feel overly-threatened by brown people from Mexico, feeding needless racist fears.  He should reduce the relative attractiveness of our nation with targeted foreign aid to Central America, as well as carpet-bombing the region with condoms.  America gets richer, while the poor get more babies.

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