That’s an architectural landmark in Caracas. In the 1950s, it was designed to be the world’s first drive-through shopping mall. But it never was finished — a victim of difficult economic and political times.
Today it is a massive torture chamber for political opponents of President Nicolas Maduro. At least that’s how the BBC described it after interviewing former prisoners and some former guards who were willing to talk anonymously.
The report says a share of the prisoners there were simply rounded up from crowds near anti-government protests, even though some of them were just in the wrong place at teh wrong time.
If you lived in a nation where this was happening, would you look for a way out, even if it meant walking across a continent to get to the United States?
Too often, the nation’s immigration crisis becomes a battle of shallow stereotypes in Washington. That’s true for every facet of the debate.
The practice of rounding up asylum seekers and either busing or flying them to self-proclaimed sanctuary cities or states with Democratic majorities cannot be justified as anything more or less than a political stunt. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis aren’t looking for any sort of meaningful answers to immigration reform by doing this.
However, if the political left were serious about solving this issue, it would admit that it isn’t fair for border states to bear the full brunt of this crisis, either. Immigration is a federal issue, and a system should be in place for all 50 states to share in the burden in a planned and organized way.
That would take some hard work in Congress, and it could jeopardize the fundraising that feeds off the kinds of stereotypes that ignore places like the Helicoid in Caracas.
Maybe you’re thinking we should just close the southern border completely to asylum-seekers. That’s your right, but you probably also haven’t read reports about how the worldwide migration crisis, fueled mainly by the need to escape violence and find safety and economic freedom, is affecting nearly every continent.
Earlier this week, the Catholic Church marked the 109th World Migrant and Refugee Day. The reports around the globe were sobering. According to Euronews and the Associated Press, more than 132,000 people have landed in Italy by crossing the Mediterranean so far this year, an increase from about 70,000 a year ago. More than 27,000 have died trying to do the same over the last 9 years.
Thousands of Syrians have flooded Lebanon, trying to escape war. Lebanese officials are warning that the refugees will upset that nation’s demographic balance.
During recent trips to Sweden, I have seen first-hand how anger at immigration made a new anti-immigration party the nation’s second largest political force.
Meanwhile, the U.S. border patrol reports that it arrested 181,059 people along the Southwest border with Mexico in August. That was actually a reduction from more than 220,000 in December.
It’s hard to say whether President Biden’s recent decision to grant temporary protected status to almost 500,000 Venezuelans will affect those numbers as word trickles down. The move allows those asylum seekers to work and live in this country, at least temporarily, without fear of deportation. But the order also does not cover anyone who came after July 31 of this year.
In honor of the Catholic Church’s World Migrant and Refugee Day, Pope Francis said migration should always be a choice, not something forced on people because of war, political oppression, poverty or climate change.
While that is a lofty ideal, it ought to be obvious that those who are willing to endure almost anything to escape the abuses of their home countries — abuses like those at the Helicoid — deserve better than to be treated as pawns in a left-right political game in this country.
The International Organization for Migration reports that 686 migrants either died or disappeared near the U.S.-Mexico border last year. The organization said that makes the border the world’s deadliest overland migration route.
Certainly, no nation should be expected to open its borders to all comers. But Americans ought to demand that Congress finally do the hard work of deciding, in a bipartisan way, on an orderly, humane and compassionate way to deal with this problem as a nation.