In this image, I attempt to show America in peril as the rights and freedoms of Americans and immigrants are enduring with ICE raid across America.
Many years ago, I used to view illegal immigration as a threat. I believed that all immigrants were Mexicans and they brought violent crime and drugs. I felt jealous that they were devaluing our wages, stealing our jobs and siphoning our social services without giving anything back. They were unable to assimilate and learn our language. They are law breakers who ‘jump the lines’ to immigrate illegally.
Today, I have traveled over 25 countries in the world and have seen similar immigration trends. In Europe, eastern Europeans (people from the former Soviet bloc) are the main immigrants having this affect. In the Middle East and Asia, South Asians represent a similar population of immigrants.
In regards to the USA, the world immortalizes the liberty, freedom and opportunity that our country stands for. Many people who live in abstract poverty (or refugees of war) are more than often in a pit of despair and like all immigrants seek a better life than is possible in their home countries. They don’t leave because they don’t love their country but because they love ours and have to find a better life. Wouldn’t we consider the same if we were in their situation?
What I have discovered in the US is that not all illegals are Mexican, from Central America or South America. Many are also still Europeans. I say ‘still’ because despite what we believe today, America has built it’s country on the ashes of the native Indian who originally inhabited this land. They may have allowed the first colony at Plymouth rock to live instead of starving to death, as they certainly would have, but they did not have any desire to allow immigration from Europe at the expense of their own survival and well being.
Contrary to political rhetoric by Republicans the violent crime rate is lower among immigrants and immigrant crime is more commonly property crimes whereas violent crime among American citizens is double. Of all crime tallied, immigrant crime has little impact on statistics.
It is true that illegal immigration devalues our wages, however they do not siphon our social services. Immigrants do not steal our jobs either. A large number of illegal immigrants are not ‘jumping’ the queue either, because there are laws in place and a path to citizenship for them called the DREAM Act. Of course this doesn’t mean we don’t secure our borders but the problem is much bigger than that family that seeks to lift themselves out of poverty and enjoy greater freedom or ability for ICE to enforce the law. The larger problem and the solution of illegal immigration lies in big businesses who employ them and with you, the American consumer. Americans expect cheap products, food and consumer goods. Businesses expect to meet bottom lines and increase shareholder earnings. The government expects to grow the economy to keep you happy and congressional leaders can get (re)elected. None of these goals can be achieved by paying $7.25/hr (or the proposed $15/hr) minimum wage. Instead, illegal immigrants, due to the fact that they are illegal, accept lower earnings. The cost savings businesses pass on to you, the consumer, and you are happy to buy cheaper locally produced products. The moment they become citizens, they are required by law to receive a minimum wage and the cost goes up and you will see it at the supermarket. Legal immigration to the US, if you are not a refugee, asylum seeker or have family ties, requires a college degree and employment. These are not the type of people who will work in a field picking strawberries for less than minimum wage. Businesses, the economy and the American consumer are dependent on low skilled labor.
It’s also true that many illegal immigrants do not learn the English language proficiently. However, this is a non-issue in my view. I have seen many countries that have many ‘official’ languages and the language barrier is not an issue. It is their kids that learn English well and help them conduct business and social interactions. America has always had strong Spanish, French and English roots. English is our common language and people should be encouraged to learn it, but not doing so is not a deal breaker or a threat to our society. Americans are spoiled in the world and are one of the few countries where most citizens do not speak more than one language. In an ever shrinking world, us Americans need to begin to learn more than one language proficiently. I suggest Mandarin and Spanish, because China is the next global economic superpower, and Spanish because a huge number of our citizens are of Spanish speaking origin. Spanish is also one of the romance languages that encompasses a large portion of Europe (including French).
Contrary to what the Republican layperson believes, illegal immigrants DO have constitutional rights. One of those rights that is currently being abandoned by ICE is the right to a hearing.
Lastly, there is the humanitarian angle. ICE raids across the nation have terrorized immigrants who are DREAMers, those who are by law able to remain in the US and seek the path to citizenship. To go further, families whose children are legal and parents are not should never be split up. The US citizen children have the right not just to remain in their country but also the humanitarian right to be with their parents. Deporting them and requiring them to apply for citizenship on this basis is callous, unjust and leaves part of the family in abject poverty. After deportation to a country they left because of poverty they will not likely to be able to afford the process. It is unnecessary, cruel and likely to cost US citizens money that will be sent out of the country to support them. These situations amplify the case for a path to citizenship while remaining with their family in the US.
Since World War II, the United States has been a beacon of hope for people around the world. We have been viewed as the model system of government that people aspire to adopt. Our liberty, freedom and opportunity has been legendary. It is all changing with the new wave of white nationalist populism in the US. What the people of the world are seeing (and I have spoken to some), what they are talking about is not how wonderful America is, that shining beacon on a hill, but how wonderful it was and what it is becoming. What they see, what we are showing them, is that we seem to have adopted the keen desire to be like other regimes who end up repressing their citizens (and others), a great nation that has become closed off, walled off, fearful, terrorizing, a once great beacon of liberty on top of a hill now happy to be reducing itself to be a fortified citadel happy to rest itself in the valley with the rest of the nations not known for their greatness.
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