Here’s a detail about America that doesn’t get enough attention: We’re a compassionate and generous people. Upon seeing the living conditions of detained migrants at the Mexican border, many Americans wanted to see change and to help.

Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz suggested a path to allow private citizens be part of the solution. He wrote to the Department of Homeland Security asking it to find a way to allow Americans to donate money to the government to help migrants in U.S. custody. If that strikes you as odd, you might not know the government already has a process for accepting private donations for a handful of things.

Currently, the government accepts private gift contributions to reduce the public debt. Citizens can also donate to the general operations of the government by sending contributions to a special account called “Gifts to the United States.” While filling out our tax forms every year, we can also choose to give to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.

But as of yet, we cannot send checks to the Feds earmarked for migrants.

Why not?

By creating a sanctioned channel between generous Americans and struggling migrants, the government could sidestep congressional budget battles. All funds, in this case, would be voluntarily given. We suspect someone in Congress might still object, but we believe compelling the federal government to create this charitable channel would do more good than many people might realize.

The gifts themselves would do a great service. First, it would enable Americans to put money where many of their hearts are, which alone would help foster a culture of compassion. Second, any donations that came in would demonstrate the great generosity that resides in our country and put positive pressure on policymakers to actively work toward finding solutions that alleviate problems at the border.

In a free society, we need individuals (and institutions) to act with compassion toward others. Creating a way to give private donations to the public entity engaged in this issue won’t solve the entire problem, but it does move us toward a better path.

— The Dallas Morning News


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