As a topic of policy, immigration is as hot as it gets. There are a lot of emotions involved when we’re talking about splitting up families, illegal entries, war-weary refugees, terrorists at the door, or a need for workers. And let’s be honest, we all hold internally conflicting points of view on immigration depending on which part of the conversation is being discussed. These truths make it difficult to wade through our current labyrinth of immigration laws and recognize the actual facts, leaving us too often to operate on pure emotion or disinformation or misinformation.
Part of the problem is our starting point. We’re not all on the line together. Some insist that few or no barriers to immigration should exist, while others want the exact opposite- no immigration at all. Most of us fall somewhere between the two extremes, understanding both the history and value of immigration in creating a stronger nation, if not always the darker side of our immigration history. So first let’s see if we can agree on a few ground rules to build from.
- Any country, including America, has the right to laws that deal with immigration.
- If a country has laws dealing with immigration those laws should be administered equally to all potential immigrants.
- A country has the right to enforce their laws, including immigration laws, so long as they do so in a humane and consistent manner. Ad hoc enforcement is immoral and confusing.
These ground rules are simple to understand and reasonable to expect. They do not favor any side of the conversation. And if you take a look at how America deals with matters of immigration today you will learn that we’re not doing so well these days. We have laws, but they aren’t applied equally and they aren’t enforced consistently.
With few exceptions (those being to reform the most blatantly racist of immigration rules) our laws surrounding immigration have been crafted to exclude certain classes of people or to criminalize individuals or organizations (including companies) for specific actions related to people who enter the country illegally. While often drafted under the guise of security or protectionism, the result of our laws has always been preferential treatment to some immigrant groups, arbitrary exclusion for others, lax enforcement and ideological favoritism towards corporations and punitive actions for the individual(s) on the wrong side of the law.
None of this knowledge fixes the problem, but it’s important to recognize where we are, how we got here, and what it means.
To fix the problem requires more than just a revision of the legal codes. It requires an honest conversation with each other and with our elected officials on each topic related to immigration policy. An honest, respectful, listening to each other kind of conversation devoid of rhetoric, untruths, and emotional anecdotal information. We must come together and decide who were are, what matters most, and how we get there.
- Do you believe that refugees should be granted asylum? And if so, what is the best way to grant it while protecting America from enemies in disguise (if they even exist in this group of people)?
- Do you believe that cheap labor, goods, and corporate profits are more important than maintaining a modestly growing middle class?
- Do you believe that all immigration laws should be enforced regardless of the effect on families and children?
- Do you believe that being born in America should grant you citizenship regardless of your parent’s citizenship status?
- Do you think we should have conditions placed on non-refugee immigration such as how much money you have, what skills you have, your race or religion, your gender or physical condition?
- How do you think we should deal with anyone currently living and working here illegally?
- How do think we can best reduce future illegal immigration?
These are the things we need to discuss and determine, and then consistently apply.
Our current scapegoating of immigrants for taking our jobs or bringing in terror or destroying the “American Way of Life” are unjustified and untrue. Most job destruction has been caused by corporate greed or technical advancement. Most terror in America has been inflicted by citizens of this country, often angry, white, Christian men. Most enforcement of illegal immigration has targeted the easy to get without penalizing corporate lawbreaking or the criminal element. And the “American Way of Life” has always been a story of immigration- good and bad.
America has a right to immigration laws. Immigrants have a right to know that the rules and enforcements are fair and equal and consistent. And we all have a right to an honest conversation.
Look at the ground rules again. Look at the issues at stake. With all that in mind, what do you think?
#immigrationreform #honestdiscussion #redbluepurpleus #immigration