A people story much bigger than policy or politics

July 14, 2014 

In Washington and around the country we're opining and debating, with considerable bitterness and more than a little ugliness, what should be done about the immigration crisis at our southern border. It's a debate more about politics than about real policy, and more about abstract attitudes than about human realities.

Meanwhile, at that same border, real human beings are helping other real human beings. And if there's any kind of ideological debate going on there, it's a remarkably quiet one.

The Los Angeles Times, in a story republished in Monday's Ledger-Enquirer, described a moving scene near McAllen, Texas, where volunteers are welcoming the flood of immigrants not with agendas, but with food and clothing and comfort. They have transformed McAllen's Sacred Heart Catholic Church into a sort of welcome center, and their first response to arrivals is a round of applause and a shout of "Bienvenidos!" The volunteers, according to the Times story, are Baptists, Episcopalians, Methodists and, of course, Catholics; they are teachers and school children, college students and retirees, business leaders and owners; all told, there are currently about 800 of them at that relief center alone. There are no doubt others.

"This is the first experience a lot of people here have of meeting an American," a volunteer named Cesar Roijas, a business consultant, told the Times. "I put myself in their position. How would I want to be treated?"

Since the group organized on Facebook just a month ago, its volunteers have already served more than 3,000 immigrants with food, bath facilities, and, most important, simple human warmth. They also provide transportation to places where the immigrants can stay until they're legally processed.

There's a lot of shouting and name-calling around the issue of immigration. The 800 volunteers in McAllen -- and almost certainly at other pockets of selfless human decency along the border -- are way too busy for such useless noise.

Credentials matter

The resignation of Greg Coates as director of the city's Inspections and Codes Department is unfortunate, but appropriate.

It is unfortunate because Coates reportedly did a very good job of healing a broken and unhappy city agency plagued with falsified documents, harassment, unpleasant dealings with citizens, and morale problems. "We went from having complaints of rudeness in the department to having none at all," Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said of Coates' tenure.

But Coates was also under an administrative agreement to become International Code Council certified -- knowledgeable with regard to electrical, plumbing and other building code issues -- within two years, a stipulation with which he failed to comply.

The resignation is appropriate because agreements matter. So do qualifications for important duties like the ones this office demands.

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service