Rascovar column: Immigration quandary for the GOP

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Photo above: U.S. border with Mexico (Photo by Maitri/Flickr Creative Commons License)

By Barry Rascovar

For MarylandReporter.com

Are Republicans poor spellers?

They might be, judging from the graffiti (“NO ILLEAGLES HERE”) spray painted on a former Carroll County military building that briefly was under consideration to house immigrant children fleeing violence in Central America.

Or is it just that Republicans are narrow-minded bigots?

It seems they don’t want anyone entering this country unless the immigrants are Anglo-Saxon Christians who believe the “G” in GOP stands for God.

Republican history

Hostility toward immigrants is in the Grand Old Party’s DNA.

The GOP started as an amalgamation of anti-slavery groups and the Know-Nothing Party (formally known in states as the American Party or the Native American Party).

The Know-Nothings’ near-hysterical hostility toward Irish-Catholics and Germans later turned into anti-Chinese venom.

Keeping “them” out of the U.S. of A. has morphed into today’s sweeping condemnation of 57,000 children from non-English-speaking, heavily Catholic nations in Central America who have crossed the border.

‘Combat zone’

Frederick County’s arch-enemy of immigrants, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, recently toured part of the Texas-Mexico border, declared it a “combat zone” and called for full militarization.

Fortress America, here we come!

“We’re being invaded by drug cartels, drug smugglers, human traffickers,” the law-and-order sheriff railed.


Unaccompanied children are crossing the border, not gun-toting thugs and narco terrorists.

And in Baltimore County. . .

You’d never know that by listening to Del. Wade Kach or Councilman Todd Huff of Baltimore County. The two Republicans have joined the anti-immigrant mob.

They’re upset because Catholic Charities wants to house 50 children from Central America at its secluded St. Vincent’s Villa for children with severe emotional and behavioral problems.

Meanwhile, Republican Baltimore County Del. Pat McDonough, who never misses a shot at outrageous publicity, is calling for the erection of tent cities along the border and immediate deportation of “them.”

Congressional response

Then there’s the irrepressible Republican naysayer, Congressman Andy Harris, who was quick to issue bombastic opposition to Central American kids living temporarily at a former Army Reserve building in Westminster – a locale that is not in his district.

Harris, an anesthesiologist, cited among other reasons “the potential health risks to the community” — as though these kids were carrying the Bubonic Plague.

He wants the 57,000 children deported to their home country and to “get back in line.”

Discrimination is alive and well in the Republican Party’s Maryland branch.

Christian response

Catholic Charities’ proposal, thankfully, does not follow Republican Party dicta. Instead, it follows Christian teachings that most Republicans ostensibly say they follow.

This is, as Pope Francis pointed out, a “humanitarian crisis” involving unaccompanied children. Catholic Charities is extending the good work it does by undertaking this new mission at St. Vincent’s Villa in Timonium.

It’s not a permanent solution but rather a helping hand for 50 kids while their situations are sorted out.

What’s wrong with that?

Maryland’s response

How does Maryland suffer when a local charity offers assistance to some of the needy, regardless of their place of origin?

Gov. Martin O’Malley understands.

He first complained to the White House about placing kids at a Westminster facility lacking security or running water – not to mention the seething animus in Carroll County toward outsiders (especially Spanish-speaking “illeagals” who might pollute Carroll’s idyllic surroundings).

He was right to inform the White House of that bone-headed proposal.

There are far better ways to offer help and assistance to these kids, such as finding compatible settings near Washington, where there are large Hispanic communities (and proximity to Central American embassies) or in Baltimore City, with its own Spanish-speaking enclave.

NIMBY Republicans

The Republican line is that this crisis is “a federal problem” created by the hated Obama administration. Offering a helping hand – even to children – isn’t in the GOP’s vocabulary.

Republican NIMBYism is alive and well.

Let someone else handle these desperate kids, all 57,000 of them. Just make sure the federal refugee camps are “not in my back yard.”

What’s confronting the United States is a major humanitarian dilemma. It won’t be solved solely by the White House. It will take a combined effort by states, non-profit groups and the federal government.

Republicans don’t want any part in extending charity to these kids.

Possible solution

The best way to stop this unwanted influx is to become involved in helping Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala crack down on criminal activity, to bolster health and education opportunities and to encourage business development.

Republicans will have none of that.

They don’t want immigrants coming to this country and they don’t want to do anything to help stem the tide – other than stationing armed troops on our southern border.


Barry Rascovar writes a weekly column which runs first in MarylandReporter.com and then www.politicalmaryland.com. He can be reached at brascovar@hotmail.com.

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