U.S. military personnel and Border Patrol agents gather at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday at the San Ysidro border crossing point south of San Diego. (Sandy Huffaker/AFP/Getty Images)

We are the most powerful nation in the world and the best we can do is tear gas mothers and children.

Sunday afternoon, members of the migrant caravan, mostly young men along with some families, from Central America attempted to push past Mexican police and cross the border. The AP reports that US Border Patrol closed the border crossing and fired tear gas into Mexico leading to, “choking toddlers.”

This is after, as reported last week by the Military Times, the Trump administration issued an order to allow the military to, “engage in some law enforcement roles and use lethal force, if necessary.”

Details of the situation in Tijuana will emerge through the night and into the week. But, with Trump headlining rallies in Mississippi on Monday, the incident will surely drive the news cycle.

Take a minute to put yourself in the shoes of that Central American mother or father. Who picked up everything, grabbed their children and walked hundreds, if not thousands, of miles in search of safety. These are choices one makes out of severe duress. These are choices any of us would make.

What we have now is an unsustainable situation. Migrants will not be deterred from fleeing the violence in these countries. Mexico will do what they can to stabilize a dangerous situation. One way or another, migrants will find their way to our border. Yet, as of now, America will double down on an enforcement-centric approach.

A balanced strategy is sorely needed. Invest in Northern Triangle countries, help Mexico manage the transit of migrants, and process asylum applications without trapping families in military detention centers or in Mexican shelters.

To be clear, I am not advocating open borders. But, America has done more difficult things. We can live up to this challenge by being a nation of laws and a nation of grace.

Either way, there are now several factors playing into the December 7 budget negotiations: Today’s incident in San Ysidro, the record number of children detained, a potential agreement with Mexico to keep asylum seekers until their case has been adjudicated, a new 60 Minutes report on the massive number of children separated from their parents, and Trump’s demand for $5 billion in wall funding.

Looking ahead, in addition to the immigration issues of the day, driving the next two years’ political debate will be the question of American identity. This being a question put on the table in 2015 when, according to The Times’ Sabrina Tavernise, the US Census announced that white Americans, “Were projected to fall below half the population and lose their majority status,” by the year 2044.

Which brings me to unity and cohesion.

In an essay for The Atlantic, David Frum encourages conservatives to support classical liberalism in order to rebuild a political center. He makes the case that while Democrats focus on group identity in multicultural America, “At the same time, the country’s immigration intake should be adjusted to stabilize the foreign-born percentage of the population. Diversity may be an American strength, but so too is unity and cohesion.”

Look, as longtime readers know, we work in white, deeply conservative, parts of this country, as well as big, liberal, diverse cities. Regardless of political persuasion, most people point to political leadership for the lack of unity and cohesion. Only the outliers blame immigrants.

If you are the town manager of Mount Olive, NC, you take leadership and convene the stakeholders to make sure Haitian TPS holders can revitalize your town of 4,700 while they work at the world’s largest turkey processing plant.

Or, if you are Joe Maddon, you go back home to help your community find unity and cohesion with a fast growing immigrant population.

In my Only in America interview with the Chicago Cubs manager and Hazelton native, he told me, “We need to put ourselves in more uncomfortable situations. Meaning seeking differences, different opinions, different thoughts, different methods that are contrary to what we like to do right now.”

Realizing that there are few things more uncomfortable than immigration, Joe told me, “We’re reliving history right now and we don’t even realize that. We need new thoughts, we need new ideas, we need new folks coming to different parts of this country to make it all flourish.”

Go Cubs.

Ali

PS. Just a friendly reminder that the Forum publishes a daily tipsheet summarizing the top immigration news stories. Click here to subscribe to “Noorani’s Notes.”

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