As we showed in Part 1, of Know What Matters To You, we are a compassionate nation with a history of helping those in need to unprecedented levels.  An IRS agent dispensing federal funds by default, without the standard qualifying identification processes that include an interview with a government official, is NOT the way to determine qualifications for benefits. We need to decide the benefit qualifications based on a person’s circumstances …the entire family’s financial status… and resolve this in a formal and legal way. 

We have homeless and mentally ill American citizens living on the streets in dire circumstances who should be just one of many priorities in any decisions about tax payer provided benefits such as health care or public housing.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there were roughly 554,000 homeless people living somewhere in the United States on any one given night last year (2017).     A total of 193,000 of those homeless people were “unsheltered,” meaning that they were living on the streets and had no access to emergency shelters, transitional housing, or Safe Havens”     Where is the concern for them?

Per the National Association of Mental Illness, 21% of the people in jail and 20% of inmates in state prisons have serious mental illnessSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Administration reports in 2014, approximately 9.3 million in the US have a serious mental illness.    

In 2013, an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older4%  of the population—had used an illicit drug in the past month. Drug abuse and addiction cost American society close to $200 billion in healthcare, criminal justice, legal, and lost workplace production/participation costs in 2007, the Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) reports.    

The current opiod crisis will incur treatment costs estimated to be anywhere between $6,000 to $15,000 per patient per year according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and a total cost to the economy estimated to be $78 billion in 2013 with only $2.8 billion going toward treatment.    

The hidden agendas in the politicization of this immigration issue exploits immigrants and the American citizens in need alike, and it is more than offensive.  

The politicization borders on the criminal when you see the neglect our veterans and American citizens endure as a result of it. Some politicians believe benefits to immigrants get them elected.  However, at the very same time, rightful benefits are denied to veterans and American citizens due to lack of funding.  I have been in organizations that struggled to fund programs for American citizens in need, and it is shameful to see our country ignore the battered woman, an American citizen, needing a safe haven for herself and her child, also an American citizen, while she labors to make a better life for her family.     

You cannot spend that dollar on both the asylum seeker from another country and that single American mother and child needing asylum at home.

There are only so many dollars available and, dare I say it, American citizens should come first.  We as a nation are the most sympathetic and compassionate people ever known on this planet.  We empathize with those wanting a better life for their children and families because this nation was built on those very desires.  But we need to ask ourselves a very hard question. 

Are we sharing or are we taking the food from the mouths of our very own children to feed someone else? 

Are we not losing sight of what our priorities are as a nation when we ignore our own, especially when the issues of asylum and immigration are politicized as much as these have been?  American citizens should be our FIRST priority.  

You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things.

And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside.

The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.

Stephen Covey


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