How to talk immigration

The way in which our society has viewed “immigration” has failed us and the way in which we have reduced this view to a single issue of “border security” has betrayed our values and our way of life.  We have two choices: we can either continue to pretend that immigration can be reduced to just a single issue and continue to have our “illegal immigration problem” for years to come, or we can choose to look at this anew and realize that we cannot continue to go at this in the same manner we have gone at it before.  Yes, there is a new way to bring about meaningful change: we can begin by choosing to stop ignoring the multiple issues that make up the root of the humanitarian crisis that we face in our Southern border every single day.     

If you would like to commit yourself to go beyond the notions that have gotten in the way of how to solve our problem of “illegal immigration” for good, then read on. 

Let’s tackle the most common misconceptions about “illegal immigrants” and immigrant rights activists:

Myth: “illegals” don’t pay taxes.

Fact: they pay taxes, and not just sales taxes.  They actually pay income taxes.  These taxes subsidize your schools, hospitals, roads, police departments, etc. etc. Click here for more information. 

Myth: immigrant rights activists want open borders.

Fact: no one is talking about “open borders.”  In fact, we argue quite the opposite: by having a more humane and comprehensive immigration reform, we would be able to control our borders better by keeping a legal record of and knowing exactly who comes into the U.S. This is an issue similar to the Driver’s License debate: why shouldn’t you give a Driver’s License to an “undocumented” immigrant so that you could have a better record of and keep track of him/her? 

Myth: “illegal immigrants” and “immigrant rights activists” complain about the U.S.’s “inhumane” immigration policy when other countries have worse immigration policies of their own than the U.S.’s.

Fact: two wrongs do not make a right.  For the sake of argument: just because Mexico or any other country might have been guilty of having an inhumane immigration policy of its own in the past, it does not mean that it is okay for the U.S. to have an even more horrible one.  The U.S. is supposed to be better, not worse, than other countries.

Myth: the U.S. can’t be a welfare state for the rest of the world.

Fact: the U.S. shouldn’t be a welfare state for the rest of the world.  That is precisely why the U.S. needs to start treating the “illegal immigration problem” as what it truly is: a HUMANITARIAN crisis.  By talking about it and treating it as such, international bodies could be brought in to help out: such as the U.N. and the Organization of American States (O.A.S.).  Until the U.S. starts to address to root cause of “illegal immigration”: the poverty that creates “illegal immigrants”, no amount of deportations, no border walls no matter how high, and no detention centers will stop human beings from trying to escape their abject living conditions by crossing the border and seeking a better life for themselves and their families.  The United State SHOULDN’T take in all of the third world’s problems. That is PRECISELY why the ONLY permanent solution to the humanitarian crisis that is going on in our border is for the rich countries of the world to prop up the economies of third world countries through PROGRESSIVE policies NOT corporatist ones because up to this day what has been going on are policies like so-called Free Trade Agreements that have made the rich transnational corporations richer and the poorer poorer in many countries, including our own.  Wanting to shut our ears and eyes to the fact that attempts at building walls on the border simply do not solve the larger problem or the fact that deporting everyone is just NOT realistic is simply foolish.  As long as there is utter poverty in many of these countries that import economic refugees to the U.S., there will ALWAYS be “illegal immigration” no matter what authoritarian law passes that tries to attack the symptoms rather than the root of the problem, the result will always be the same: we will continue to live in the current cycle of a broken immigration system unless we go to the root of the problem: oppressive poverty.  An immigration reform would be a good step that MUST be taken towards a solution, but we cannot stop there because the root of the problem will continue: we need to put in mechanisms to raise the standard of living not only in our country but also in these third world countries, it’s not only the practical thing to do, it is the MORALLY right thing to do AND it is good for our long-term national security. The U.S. has enough geopolitical influence to work on this with other first world countries, but there needs to be a stronger movement to push leaders of our countries to take action.  However, as long as we just do things that divide us, the transnational greedy corporatists will continue to keep on winning and getting richer, not just here in the U.S. but throughout the world. We must work together because ultimately, we are all the same: human beings.

Myth: if the living conditions of these immigrants’ home countries are so damn bad, why do they not stay in their countries and do something about it?

Fact: they have tried, and they have done so for years, oftentimes with dire consequences not only to themselves but to their loved ones.  Don’t you think that if they could’ve changed things so easily, they would’ve done so already, a long time ago?  Do you not watch the news?  What do you think all those Latin American guerillas and bloody socio-political chaos across many decades were about?  They were about trying to change the status quo.  It is a process, and change will not come overnight.

Myth: by having immigration reform or “amnesty”, you are rewarding criminal behavior.

Fact: first of all, crossing the border to escape poverty, hunger, or to just pursue a more dignified life for you and your family with no documents on you formally allowing you to do so is not a “criminal” offense.  It is a CIVIL violation; BIG difference.  For a detailed explanation of this, go here. What kind of language is used in this topic is no small thing; as anyone knows, it is absolutely central to the interpretation of our laws.  Point in case: do you call a jaywalker an “illegal walker”?  Do you call any U.S. citizen that speeds in his car an “illegal driver”?  There is certainly something occurring here that has been forced to go under the shadows because of a humantarian crisis that is taking place.  However, shutting down the debate and being staunchly against immigration reform just because you think that a “criminal offense” took place and decide that that is the end of the story is like tryinig to block out the sun with one of your fingers.

Myth: well, if you choose to cross the border and complain about our laws, then you should’ve thought about that before crossing our borders and start taking responbility for your own actions.

Fact: if you want to talk about doing illegal and/or wrong things then maybe you should talk about how the United States has many times contributed to the economic woes of the countries many of these immigrants come from. If you want to talk about taking responsibility for your own actions, then maybe the United States should take responsibility for what it has done with the International Monetary Fund’s INTERVENTIONS(click here for details) in third world countries. If you want to talk about wrongdoing maybe you ought to be talking about American companies like WalMart and its low wages/cheap labor practices. Maybe you ought to look into how some American business interests have gone into many countries, sucked them up dry, and bailed out; adding to their economic woes. It is time for the United States to take responsibility for its own actions and for it to be once again a shining beacon of hope that sets the example for others to follow.

Leave a Reply