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“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

I think most folks in Washington have forgotten, if they ever knew, the message contained in this simple, powerful inscription on the Statue of Liberty. Every elected official should have it engraved in the middle of their desk as a reminder.

Nowhere does it say there are pre-conditions, only that huddled masses yearning to breathe free are welcome. The enforcement mentality espoused by the president is a consequence of trying vainly to satisfy an undeliverable campaign promise by proclamation. Yet another is the inhumane practice of warehousing detainees in unsafe and unsanitary conditions despite an unambiguous court order to provide safe and sanitary conditions.

We all hear the mantra from DHS they are overwhelmed and doing the best they can. The standard of care articulated in the legal decision is safe and sanitary, not are doing the best we can and we all have to be satisfied with sub-standard execution of an absolute standard. During my 27-year experience with various military leaders, I learned one over arcing principle. Simply stated, it is “Don’t ever make your failure to plan my problem”.

All of us except Native Americans are descended from immigrants. As a nation, we have forgotten the Statue of Liberty inscription to welcome all. I do recognize the need to winnow out drug trafficking and violent criminal elements. That said, current enforcement mentality exceeds that need, is punitive, and fraught with tragic consequences.

So, my message to Congress and leadership in Washington is stop with the excuses, denial, litigation. Find a humane solution to a problem you created by inaction. Your failure to plan is now a collective moral outrage (problem) for those of us in the hinterlands who pay you the big bucks.

Evan Mandigo, Bismarck

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