ALPERN AT LARGE--Whether we like it or not, both liberals and conservatives alike are becoming equally, and emphatically, disenfranchised and angry at how our homeless and border policies are being enforced ... or, perhaps, more accurately, NOT being enforced.
Doing nothing clearly is NOT an option here.
Conservatives, particularly evangelical and other Christian conservatives, joined liberals about the Trump Administration's "zero tolerance policy" about separating children at the Southern border from their parents. President Trump has now signed an Executive order to keep families together, but it's doubtful that any of those who oppose President Trump and his border policies/goals will be satisfied by that order.
Doing nothing clearly is NOT an option.
But there are three problems at the heart of all these controversial issues:
1) The false narratives.
2) The political partisanship eclipsing an accurate portrayal and narrative of the TRUTH at the heart of the controversies.
3) Worst of all, the conflation ("making two different things the same") of true victims versus blatant lawbreakers.
Once we recognize that there ARE real victims and recognize that resources to address an issue are NOT endless, the realization that any support to law breakers rips needed and vital lifelines to those real victims should force us to both enforce the law to the frauds/posers claiming they're victims, and then show kindness to those who are the real victims.
1) Conflating the homeless who have lived, have families in the area, and/or who work in any given neighborhood with those who have just moved in because of the nice weather and the rumors of free services" hurts both the image and the resource availability to those who want to get help, get treatment, and get back on their feet.
2) Conflating the homeless who will work with social and health services with those who adamantly refuse these services hurts and confuses the issue of who and how to work with this problem to restore lives, families, and communities with those who needed to be addressed only with a bum's rush to the nearest city/county border.
3) Conflating those immigrants who are here legally, and who are here illegally, harms and obscures what an immigrant truly is, and of the positive role that law-abiding immigrants have had for this nation since its inception--and even of the positive role that those here illegally can do if they work hard, play by the rules, and are willing to acknowledge their law-breaking (usually out of desperation) has cost law-abiding taxpayers (for example--paying back the $100,000 for a child's K-12 education).
4) Conflating those here illegally who do wish to become American, and do do their best to speak English (remember--refusing to try to speak even limited English to white Americans is the same as refusing to try to speak English to black Americans, or Asian Americans...and that's just plain racist, and anything BUT worthy of prioritization of our resources), from those who are here illegally and don't have ANY interest in assimilation to American culture just hurts the noble efforts of those doing their best under imperfect circumstances.
And BECAUSE the issue of separating children from their parents is on so many Americans' minds...
5) Conflating separation of children from their parents with separation of children from those CLAIMING to be their parents but who are either coyotes at best, or sex traffickers at worst, allows the critical reason why both President Obama AND President Trump enforced the initial parent/child separation: to BEST ensure child safety.
And just because a biased press, political party, or segment of society is smelling blood in the water, an accurate complaint about President Trump's policies should, in all fairness, be extended to President Obama as well.
NO ONE who is reasonable tolerates permanent and/or inhumane separation of children from their true parents, and ...
NO ONE who is reasonable should take lightly Peter Fonda's suggestion that the President's son be taken away from his parents and put in a cage with pedophiles.
Reasonable people, however, DO have the need to ensure that parents and their true children should be kept together, but reasonable people also have the need to ask why children are being sent with strangers to the American border, and...
Reasonable people also have the reason to inquire as to why Mexico chooses to allow Honduran and El Salvadoran and other children fleeing from violence to be kept in safe refugee camps that the United States would probably pay for, if asked.
And reasonable people also have the right to inquire as to when the rules of kindness and compromise end, and when the rules of law enforcement begin, and when the questions of how and who will pay for the services for any TRUE victims will be answered.
To do otherwise is exactly what we've been doing with respect to our Homeless and Border problems--kick the can down the road, let the problems fester, and hurt those who really need our help the most: those who are the REAL victims in need of our collective assistance, and who are likely to prove themselves a worthy investment if they TRULY demonstrate the return of good will offered to them at this time.
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)