Good Luck

August 13th, 2020
L&T Opinions Page

earl watt mugL&T Publisher Earl Watt


This week, we saw concerns brought to the Liberal City Commission about a recent visit from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE.

These agents were called the “bad guys,” and the commissioners were asked to not allow the Liberal Police Department to aid or assist ICE.

Recently, the LPD has been working on enhanced community relations by getting out and visiting with the community and trying to ensure the public that the officers were not the enemies of the people. 

Our local officers are not gestapo enforcers looking to oppress the residents of the community, and it is important to realize that our local officers aren’t the bad guys if they aid federal agents in bringing those breaking the law into custody.

ICE had a list of four people, and after they were taken in to custody, two were released and the other two were released after posting bail.

They weren’t arrested only for being illegal but for having a warrant for other violations.

I have proposed a solution to this issue to our representatives in Washington, but not one of them responded beyond the typical, “Thank you for your concern” form letter.

Until we reach a solution, we have no choice but to follow the law as it is.

I may not like the 20 mile-per-hour speed limit on Washington Avenue, but until it changes, that’s the rule. I don’t get to choose my own speed because I think the existing rule is a bad one.

ICE activity could be much worse. After all, being here illegally alone is a crime, and the penalty is deportation.

It was shared that when a person with a criminal record in addition to being in the country illegally is deported, that separating the family is wrong.

Fathers and mothers who commit crimes and are jailed are separated from their families, but that isn’t the fault of the law. It’s the fault of those who violated the law.

I am concerned for our community that there are efforts being made to divide us. 

The jobs available here are great opportunities for migrant workers, and we need to find a way to make this easier as well as correcting the problem of having a border that doesn’t require those coming across to check in.

So far, our lawmakers in Washington, D.C. have let us all down on both sides of the aisle. The perception is that Democrats want an open border, which Republicans will never support, and Republicans want every illegal deported, which Democrats would never support.

Neither of those scenarios are true, but the parties use both positions to rally voters to their cause. The lawmakers on both sides are better served by never solving the problem.

We need to work together to fix this, and the biggest concern at the meeting was no one had an answer.

Ernie Schaffer and I created a solution, one that would immediately provide legal status for those here while simultaneously requiring enhanced border security and revamping the system to establish permanent residency.

If both sides would compromise a little, they could each get 90 percent of what they want rather than using this issue to garner donations to keep fighting for 100 percent, something neither side will ever get.

We have to sit down and have this conversation as a community and then expand support from other communities until we can get consensus.

But we have to do this without dividing the community to do it. 

I have a heightened sense of fear in our community because some are seeking to light a powder keg rather than do the hard work of working for real change.

Rage and frustration will not end well for anyone. The situation calls for a proposed solution.

Until then, the law is the law, and no one is the bad guy for following and enforcing the law.

We should be the place to create the solution, not make the problem worse.

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