Dear Michelle Obama,
As First Lady, you have taken a keen interest in the development of children in safe, healthy environments. On June 24, you will be meeting with Miami-Dade County Commissioner Pepe Diaz among others to discuss the plight of children whose parents have been deported as a result of immigration law. Without diminishing this issue, we would like to draw your attention to the real costs to children separated by parents right here, every day.
The issue isn't deportation, but the separation of wage earners from their children because of poorly planned suburban sprawl. Miami is representative, in this respect, of cities throughout the United States where illogical development patterns separate children from parents during the most important hours of their day. Commuting to downtown places of work on clogged highways keeps mothers and fathers stuck in traffic for hundreds of hours a year, if not more.
This problem does not begin with transportation policies. It starts with local zoning decisions that allow sprawling suburbs to grow like cancers-- albeit very profitable ones to campaign contributors from land speculators and developers.
To county commissioners like Pepe Diaz these zoning decisions are the mother's milk of local politics. The costs also includes historic Everglades and farmland that become political bargaining chips for local decision makers.
The truth is: zoning decisions that advance the political fortunes of insiders and the fortunes of developers inflict an insidious price on children: inadequate schools, badly planned infrastructure, all shift the true cost of sprawl on families.
So when Pepe Diaz is explaining how unfair immigration law is to children, please raise the issue of children who are separated from parents by illogical zoning decisions that proliferate sprawl. These real costs are inflicted on US citizens and their families by local elected officials, whose eagerness to please political insiders substantially contributed, too, to the vast oversupply of "cheap" housing far from places of work. This economic crisis wraps up Wall Street corruption with the miscalculations of risk that pass for sober policy in land use zoning.
Ask Pepe Diaz to stand up for sensible, sound development that supports compact cities and not the fortunes of land speculators and "environmental land use lawyers" who fund his political campaigns. Ask Pepe Diaz to help the children.
Would you please raise these issues in your conversation with Commissioner Diaz on June 24th who is running unopposed in his district because no one knows how to make representative democracy at the local level work, since campaign cash is dominated by special interests who need those very zoning decisions that penalize so many children born in America.
We will encourage our readers to communicate these talking points for your meeting with Pepe Diaz, for the children.
Your Friends at Eyeonmiami