President Joe Biden is facing a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border that highlights the ongoing paralysis in American public and political opinion over immigration policy.

A surge of unaccompanied children at the border has strained resources and led Biden to send in help from FEMA to humanely hold and process the children until they pursue their legal right to the immigration court system. Having children arrive is not new, but it’s increased in recent months. In January, 2,800 more children arrived than in January of 2020, with a total of nearly 6,000 unaccompanied minors encountered by border agents.

Donald Trump’s ham-fisted approach to immigration, including separating children from their parents and attempting to close borders, wasn’t a solution and predictably increased the number of migrants hoping for a chance to improve their lives by immigrating to the U.S. once Trump was voted out of office.

America needs an immigration policy, enacted by Congress and the president, that provides a route for legal entry and work permits for new arrivals and to provide a path for citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants already living here.

The U.S. birth rate continues to fall and aging baby boomers are out of the workforce and reliant on Medicare and Social Security, which are funded by younger workers. Businesses across the nation, including here in Minnesota, rely on migrant workers in ag, food and other industries.

Americans have long leaned toward turning their backs on immigrants, even though we are a nation of immigrants. The far left and far right have staked positions that makes finding a middle-ground that can muster enough support more difficult.

Biden and congressional leaders in both parties must take on the challenge of making concessions to develop a long-term solution to allow for orderly and legal migration and to allow migrant workers to enter the country and be able to return to their home countries without fear they won’t be able to legally return to America to work.

Without serious immigration reform, the recurring crises at the border will continue for decades to come, whoever the president is.

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