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A group of women carrying their children attempt to cross the border in Juarez into the United States in April 2019.

We are all immigrants in this country; even Native Americans are immigrants. In the  Americas and around the world there have been over 20,000 years of migration, and the forces propelling it are stronger than ever.

Likewise the forces repelling it are just as strong as ever.

Bigotry and xenophobia run rampant and continue  to fuel our politics to this day. Politicians love nothing more than to embrace a hot topic  such as immigration because they can blame everyone’s troubles on "outsiders."

The most powerful force for such migration, though, is climate change. This is known  as "climate migration." As the planet warms up farms and orchards that were normally  well-adapted to agronomy are instead wilting and dying. They can no longer produce  crops, what with the heat and drought. The farmers cannot sustain themselves or their  families and are forced to leave their farms. Moving to cities in most of these countries  is out of the question because of overcrowding, high unemployment, crime and  corruption. Their only option is to flee their countries for other, less inhospitable lands.  In the Eastern hemisphere they flee from Africa to Europe; in the Western hemisphere  they flee from Central and South America to North America. These do not even include,  for the most part, political refugees. Like our ancestors 20,000 years ago or so, they are  fleeing certain starvation. 

What we need to ask ourselves first and foremost is what we as Americans would do if we were in such a situation. If the wheat and corn fields of the Midwest permanently  dried up and were completely unproductive do you think that the Midwest farmers  would stick around? They certainly did not stay during the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s, and  they were ostracized by other Americans. Hence the derogatory term “Okie." We, like  anyone else on this earth, think nothing of leaving our homes when faced with starvation and death, as difficult a decision as it might be for us. The situation is no different for the millions and millions of refugees in Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the  Middle East. They are faced with certain starvation and they are fleeing to a (hopefully)  better life.  

The next situation we must consider is how would we like it if, in fleeing our homes,  we were not allowed to enter another land and were instead disbarred and told to return  to our withered homelands. We would be devastated and desperate, just like the refugees at our southern borders are at this time. We would think nothing of living in tents, under  tarps, and in cardboard boxes. We would be so desperate that we would attempt to cross  rivers in the dead of night to avoid border patrols and trek across wretched deserts with little more than a gallon of water, each in the hope that we might likewise avoid these patrols. We would endure incarceration and humiliation in the hope that someone might take pity on us. We would beg for food and swallow our pride for morsels for our  children. We would be willing to take on any jobs no matter how menial and degrading  for minimum pay (or less), just so we would not be penniless. We are no different than  these refugees except that, for a lot of us, our time has not yet come. Never say never. 

Probably those who would understand this situation best are the homeless in this  country and around the world. They have been living like this for years and even decades.  They are no different than homeless migrants, only they are homeless and destitute in  their own lands, with nowhere else to go. They live in tents, under tarps and in  cardboard boxes so they can understand the plight of climate migrants. 

So how do we approach this situation with desperate migrants at our borders? By  using it to our benefit if we are smart.

Recent immigrants comprise 3 percent of the population and are responsible for 9 percent of the GDP, according to an article published in the New York Times in August 2019. They are not lazy nor are they stealing jobs. They are instead creating jobs and filling jobs which most Americans  refuse to take. If the government and citizens of this country (and other countries that are beset  with the migration dilemma) stopped for a second, thought about what it would be like if they were in such a situation, and realized that they, too, would do everything they could to procure or create work in order to sustain themselves, then maybe climate migration  would become a non-issue (although climate change would still exist). If the  government set up programs to relocate immigrants and training for specific jobs the  country needs to fill, the problem would cease to be a problem. Such a program and  attitude would benefit this country many times over. Instead of costing money it would  pay for itself, especially in tax revenues. Some countries around the world have adapted  these measures and have only benefitted. 

So, remember, “there, but for the grace of God, go we”. 

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