THE BLOG
01/16/2015 03:07 pm ET Updated Mar 18, 2015

The President's Misguided Immigration Policy

As we approach the Martin Luther King holiday, it is critical that we pay attention to an article in the January 16 Washington Post by Lyndsey Layton. The article discusses a 2013 Federal Census report that indicates that over 50 percent of public school children from pre-K through high school are in families below the poverty level.

What does this have to do with immigration? We've already got what appears to be an irremediable problem at home helping these poor children. They will get off to a slower start in life than more affluent children because of differences in, among other things, educational opportunity. Why irremediable? Because money, number of professionals, and quality facilities are all in short supply, and, considering our debt problems, we're not likely to have the resources to completely address these issues any time soon. That doesn't mean we shouldn't continue trying, but part of that effort should be not to divert already scarce resources.

There are black children in this country who are a lot more American than I am. Many of them can trace their American heritage back hundreds of years, while I'm a naturalized citizen. And yet, we have rewarded them and their families, who descend from progenitors who were dragged here against their will under abominable conditions, by putting them into conflict with illegals who are immediately rewarded for sneaking into the country. The same holds true for the large number of Latinos who immigrated legally and integrated into American society by learning English and gaining citizenship. Many of them are in the same boat, still struggling to reach the middle class, and with children who stare at a future in which they will be no better off than their parents.

Democrats in Congress are quick to shout down Republicans who approach the immigration problem through measures that would restrict or reverse the burden that illegal immigrants impose. While it is unfortunate that Republicans tend to be slow to offer constructive alternatives, as with Obamacare, they've pretty much got it right here. The first issue has to be to do something that will allow resources to be concentrated on homegrown problems that we have yet to satisfactorily address.

I'm not going to suggest that every Democratic politician's motivation is devoid of real care about the problem they're exacerbating, but I must look askance at someone like Luis Gutiérrez, the emotional Chicago congressman who, on the floor of the House the other day, told Republicans that their party faces demise if it continues on its present course concerning immigration. Is the congressman's motivation to save the world, or is he already counting future votes?

I'm no more comfortable with more sincere do-gooders like Democratic Senate Deputy Minority Leader Dick Durbin, who wheels out his Dream Act success stories at every opportunity, as if these represent every child brought to this country illegally by his or her parents. I haven't seen any statistics, and he never supplies them. It also makes me suspicious that he generally repeats the same examples.

Why isn't Senator Durbin, who represents the state of Illinois, not more concerned about black crime and poverty in Chicago, something I could also say about Mr. Gutiérrez? They may deny that they are uninterested. I can only say that, as an inveterate CSPAN watcher, I haven't seen them bring these problems to their respective chambers. They seem to be more concerned with pandering to millions of prospective new voters.

I am not unsympathetic to the plight of immigrants looking for a better life. But that should not be our priority. My primary interests are Chicago, Oakland, Detroit, and Philadelphia. I worry about all those states, many in the South, where our children (and let's not forget that there are also miserably poor white children) are ill served and being cut off from a prosperous future because of insufficient assistance. The solution is not to divert critical resources to assist people who simply aren't Americans. Charity must begin at home.

As Americans, we bemoan the fates of others and wish we could fix every ill in the world. We can't. I'm sorry, Senator Durbin, but I'm not really concerned about your "dreamers" or any other illegal immigrants so long as there are homegrown American children in poverty. I regret the levels of crime in Honduras and Guatemala, but I'm not about to confuse the United States with Interpol, and we can't take in everyone else's problems. We're not building a nation anymore; we're trying to sustain one. The first step should be to advance its indigenous citizens, not to make our burden so unsustainable that our children are left to flounder.