Our country has clearly become more divided during recent years. From politics to the pandemic to religious beliefs, this is evident in all areas of our lives. Media stories of public discourse and events appear to further drive the tensions between the left and the right. Even facts and truthful reporting are now often disputed. Higher use of imprecise and invective language erodes even the idea of our own united country.
Some of the most acute divides and verbal dishonesty takes place with the subject of immigration. The labels “against immigration” and “open borders” are regularly hurled by partisans who seek to demonize their opponents. In addition to their inaccuracy in just about every instance, such smears hinder the ability of our leaders to reach solutions to the vexing issues of border security and immigration policy.
Take the current case of Donald Trump. He more than anyone else has been accused by his opponents of standing against immigration. Most clearly, the president is often tarred with such smears for his efforts to curb illegal immigration. His critics also refuse to note the distinction between legal immigration and illegal immigration.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden and his allies have been tarred by conservatives as advocates for open borders. But the national platform for the Democrats clearly speaks about directing immigration enforcement efforts “toward threats to public safety and national security” and also the improvement in “screening procedures at our legal ports of entry.”
Instead of unfairly attacking and alienating individuals with legitimate but competing concerns, a better course of action would be to unite around sensible goals. While this applies to many issues, one such idea in border security and immigration policy is to stop human trafficking.
According to academic researchers, there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking within the state of Texas alone for any given moment. What about the rest of the country? If we could focus on this kind of core challenge, then we might begin to see the restoration of more productive relationships and policy outcomes across our party lines. This is critical to achieve a very necessary and bipartisan scaleback in rhetoric.
In order for our government to function and endure, each of us has to do our part to reduce the level of division that has been rising each day over more issues. We could ask those around us to use truthful and respectful words. What better time than the end of 2020 and the dawn of a new year to resolve to move away from this dishonesty and demonization toward a more productive and healthy public discourse for our country.
Ken Oliver is the senior director of the Right on Immigration Program at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Morgan Henley contributed to this column.