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Punishing the Weak Does Not Show Strength

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A humane response to the current immigration issue will require elected officials to act intelligently. A grandiose show of toughness is great when dealing with dictators or countries that steal intellectual property…it is not so great when directed against refugees and babies.

But, while family separation is not an acceptable option, neither is ‘catch and release’. The fact that the American people are being forced to choose between these two extreme options is one more example of how the polarization of our government results in poorly crafted policies that only compound problems. What we really need is change—we need new politicians with new ideas that stand a chance of winning bipartisan support and solving the immigration problem.


I have traveled to Honduras many times and now have family there. It is a beautiful country with beaches, mountains, jungle, Mayan ruins and rich culture. Some of the best scuba diving in the world is off the Bay islands and the newly discovered ruins of the White City are one of the most important archeological finds of our time. The Honduran people love their country and are proud of the treasures it offers.

Reading many of the posts about the families seeking asylum at our southern border makes me realize that many North Americans must assume all Hondurans and other Central Americans are miserable and would do anything to come to the US. From personal experience, I can assure you that this is not true. The families who risk everything to come to the U.S. do so out of legitimate fear of violence, not out of misery, greed, or dislike of their countries.

In parts of Honduras and other Central American countries, drug cartels and gangs have free reign, and, while most Central Americans are able to steer clear and go about their lives, the ones who are singled out by gang members and organized criminals have no protection. So many people—Berta Caceres, Miss Honduras, 600+ El Salvadorans per month—fall victim to violence that is always connected to organized crime in some way or another.

Punishing these families through forced separation only adds to the trauma experienced by the children. It also adds to our government spending, since we then have to house the children and secure their safety, then arrange reunification once the parents have been processed and released. It makes much more sense to allow the families to stay together and to expedite the processing of asylum requests. Any other approach just kicks the immigration problem down the road and solves nothing.

As a physician, I’ve learned to treat symptoms, but also find the source of the problem. Violent gangs that force Central Americans to seek asylum in our country are an important source of the immigration problem—but they are largely ignored and overlooked by our current elected officials.

Weakening the gangs would do so much more to secure our southern border than any hardline enforcement of border laws. Like any enterprise, gangs will be weakened when we go after their finances—that is, when we slow down the flow of drugs to our country. The best ways to weaken gangs and finally secure our borders are:

  • Better addiction treatment
  • Aggressive law enforcement for dealers here and in Central America
  • Increased border security using technology to detect drug shipments and money transfers

The best part? These policies, while solving America’s immigration problem, will also make an impact on our opioid epidemic and create American jobs in the technology industry.

We need elected officials with the knowledge, passion, and energy to implement these solutions, creating a better future for our citizens as well as the citizens of our neighbors in Central America.

What do you think about this? Call (262) 419-0019 to leave a voicemail, and I might share your thoughts on this website!

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