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UW professor: Crisis at border ‘a problem that we can fix’

A protest speaking out against detention centers at the border. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Conditions at detention centers at the U.S./Mexico border has spurred a humanitarian crisis with people on both sides of the political aisle clashing. But in terms of how to actually improve those conditions, a fix is far more practical than we may think.

“For the crisis itself, we’re not in control of when people show up at our borders,” UW Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Jessica Kaminsky told The Candy, Mike and Todd Show. “The part that’s manufactured is this claim that we’re not able to respond to it.”

Chilling image of immigrant father and child tells necessary story

Kaminsky points out that handling an influx of immigrants and asylum-seekers is as simple as calling in some reinforcements.

“We can have the U.N. come in — they have containers of housing school supplies and medical centers that can be set up every overnight,” she described. “If you don’t like the U.N., we could call in the Army Corps of Engineers or FEMA to do pretty much the same job. This is truly not a technical problem.”

This is something the U.S. does when responding to everything from hurricanes to wildfires. When responding to situations like that, there predetermined processes that make it so things run quickly and efficiently.

With that in mind, treating this more like a natural disaster logistically could provide some much-needed solutions for an escalating crisis.

“Clearly there’s not a natural disaster, in this case; it’s a sort of political crisis going on that’s driving this particular migration. But the end result is the same — we’ve got people who need housing,” Kaminsky said.

The exact logistics of these fixes require a multi-pronged approach. That means calling in a variety of experts who are both experienced and properly equipped to handle high volumes of people in need of basic services.

“We should be sending in disaster response teams that are able to take care of the situation,” Kaminsky said. “Of course we need social workers. For things like physical infrastructure, housing, water, sanitation, all of that, send in the engineers of whatever political stripe you want — that’s a problem that we can fix.”

Together, that creates a holistic solution that addresses everything from the conditions immigrants are kept in, to ensuring that they’re not being detained almost indefinitely.

Whether that’s actually what happens in the near future remains to be seen, but at least for now, there are people ready to provide answers — they simply need to be tagged in.

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