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Tribune editorial: US-Mexico border chaos needs to end

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A North Dakota National Guard unit based in Bismarck deployed on Friday for duty on the U.S.-Mexico border. The 957th Engineer Company with 125 soldiers will support U.S. Customs and Border Protection for up to a year.

North Dakota is willing to do its part to secure the border. Unfortunately, the border issues should have been resolved years ago. The border has become a political issue left to presidents to deal with while Congress remains deadlocked on border policy.

The Trump administration separated children from parents and scattered the children across the country. An unknown number of families remain separated. The exact number is unknown because of shoddy paperwork.

The Biden administration was flooded at the border by refugees. Recently, it flew Haitians fleeing poverty and violence back to their country, where they face dire consequences. Many had fled their native land for South America before heading to the United States.

Presidents trying to deal with the crisis have seen their policy decisions challenged in court and often overturned. This has resulted in the lack of a consistent border policy, periodic chaos and occasional inhumane treatment of those seeking asylum.

This is a lousy situation for North Dakota Guard members and Guard troops from other states. Much of the blame, the Tribune editorial board believes, falls on Congress. It doesn’t matter whether Republicans or Democrats controlled Congress or which party held the White House. There has been a failure to reach a compromise.

There have been efforts to chip away at the problem. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, known as the Dream Act, was an attempt to create a path for citizenship to workers in the country illegally who were brought here as children. The legislation has been the focus of controversy from the beginning.

Unfortunately, members of Congress and some governors are more interested in scoring political points than doing the hard work of reaching an agreement on the border problem. This country needs an orderly system of accepting a reasonable number of immigrants at the southern border. It also needs to work with Latin America countries to curb the tide of refugees trying to reach the Mexico-U.S. border.

There’s certainly a place for more Latin Americans in the U.S. Hispanic and Latino Americans are the second-largest ethnic group in the country. There are 52 million people in the group -- or 16.7% of the national population -- with 47 million who have citizenship. It means many seeking to enter the U.S. have relatives here.

While the U.S. has a history of accepting immigrants from around the world, our policies haven’t always been fair. This is an opportunity to create a fair and humane policy for those seeking a better life.

The Tribune has no doubt North Dakota Guard members will do an excellent job on the border under difficult circumstances. It’s time for our political leaders to focus on compromise and skip the political theatrics.

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