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Republicans, refugees and refugees from the GOP

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Why do we have so many desperate families coming to our southern border? A caravan of people is now walking through Mexico from Central America, headed for the U.S. Trump calls these refugees criminals, even though our country has long granted a legal right to petition for sanctuary. Worse, our nation helped create the crime and violence in their home countries that cause them to flee for their lives.

News outlets neglect the refugees’ back story because our own U.S. policies worked to turn Central America into a nightmare. In the mid 1990s, we deported thousands of members of notorious gangs, including Calle18 and MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha ) just from the Los Angeles area. Our police took them from U.S. streets and jails and prisons and sent almost all of them to El Salvador. Then, for at least 15 years, beginning in the late 1990s, to reduce the flow of cocaine into the U.S., taxpayers spent about $10 billion fighting drug cartels in Colombia (see, for example www. foreign policy.com or use the following search phrase: “U.S., taxpayers spent about $10 billion fighting drug cartels in Colombia”).

As it turned out, Colombian drug gangs are a lot like Oklahoma fire ants; you can herd them but they just go underground and move around. The U.S. effectively herded drug trafficking operations from North and South America to Central America. Gang “migration” has created situations so desperate that mothers are willing to flee with very young children and little else. How could we not have foreseen such a potentially horrific outcome of our “war” on drugs? As a result, our nation may have only just begun to reap the sorrow we sowed in the 1990s and beyond.

Whatever burden our nation bears for creating the refugee tragedy at our border, we should shoulder it as “we the people” of a democracy. Trump wishes to shut down protests of his zero-tolerance policies, but we are surely implicated if we do not protest. If we do not protest, we are going along with commandeering nursing infants from their mothers or letting parents know they may never see their children again. We owe it to ourselves as Americans to maintain a higher standard of decency. No American should be encouraged, or ordered, to engage in such shameful acts. Indeed, our own border security people want to be released from persecuting families and go back to their job of prosecuting criminals.

What does migration among the Americas have to do with the price of beans in Durant, OK? For one thing, ordinary U.S. taxpayers — yes, including those of us in Durant — paid to clean up Colombia. Now, the land is touted to the richest Americans as a great place to invest in real estate, especially for those who are “smart enough” to pay no taxes at all. If you are rich and shrewd, you can now buy a piece of Colombia and make your own killing in the aftermath of the drug war.

As for the rest of us, the great majority of us who are “dumb enough” (actually, patriotic enough) to pay taxes, we should all feel betrayed by the Republican Party. After all, they are in charge of government at the local, state, and federal levels.

Fortunately, we have a way to live with our consciences and to keep the lights on in our local schools and hospitals. We have options. We have excellent Democratic candidates at every level of government working hard to earn our votes on Nov. 6.

If you are a Republican who feels your interests, or your honor as an American, have been sacrificed, you don’t have to live like a refugee, in fear of what may happen in your own country. Vote Democratic. See you at the polls.

Jane Hicks is a Durant native who serves the community as a Friend of the D. W. Reynolds Durant Library and Community Center.

By Jane Hicks

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