One day last week, we went for a hike around some local trails. We live very close to the Mexican border, so it's not unusual that we see Border agents driving around. But as we were hiking, we counted no less than 10 government vehicles and saw agents and search dogs swarming every where.
When I stopped one of the agents to ask what they were doing, he indicated that what they believe were two illegal immigrants ran away from the Border Patrol. So now, they were combing every square inch of the area to find and question them.
There is no question illegal immigration is an issue. Beyond the obvious tax evasion, increased welfare costs, potential spread of diseases, impact to jobs, increased traffic congestion and higher costs of education, our national security is at risk.
Protecting our borders so foreign drug cartels, gangs and terrorists don't encroach and reign supreme is critical. In that sense, whatever it takes to safeguard the infrastructure and citizens of this country is essential.
If people want to come in to this country, there is a process so that they can do so legally.
That process can be so long and so complicated and there are no guarantees that people who want to get to this country can ever get through. After visiting Mexico this past Christmas, I saw firsthand examples of extreme poverty. And it's so easy to understand why people would want to have a better life for themselves and their family.
Who can blame them for doing whatever it takes to improve their circumstances? Even if that means risking their lives by wading across rivers (when they don't know how to swim), running from dogs and federal agents and entrusting themselves to smugglers that guarantee a ride to the other side?
Can you imagine feeling so desperate?
As Charlie and I walked away from the agent, I whispered, "What would you do if you saw two people hiding in the bushes?" My husband hesitated for only a moment before responding, "I'd call the Border Patrol."
I considered his response for a few minutes before asking, "Yeah but what if it was a mother and her small child?" A pained look crossed my husband's face before he concluded, "I'd probably give them some money and invite them to our house for dinner."
Under that scenario, he felt more like he was turning a Jewish person over to the Nazis than he felt like a concerned citizen acting in the best interest of his nation's welfare.
And well ... I tend to agree with him.
Throughout time, people have migrated from one place to another. Provided you had the resources to get there - you could go pretty much anywhere you wanted. The same is true today because to a degree, you can go anywhere you want - if you have the means to get there.
My great grandparents immigrated to the United States from Ireland along with millions of others who came to this country in search of a better life. Nowadays, the global population is larger than it has ever been in the history of mankind and there are a multitude of reasons why international borders absolutely must be protected.
But I can't help but think about so many of the people who were not fortunate enough to be born in a developed country. Those people who want to give their children a better life, even if it means risking their own. It is estimated that more than 65% of the world lives off less than $2,000 a year and the gap between the rich and poor is widening each day.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about that. I feel extremely lucky that we live where we do at this time in history. I'm also extremely thankful. And while I do support the important mission of our border patrol, I've decided it's easy to do when you're on "this" side.
Those are just my thoughts.
What are yours?