Let’s start with some common ground. Very few people are currently satisfied with the immigration system as it currently stands in the United States.
The GOP has been long pushing this canard about how leftists want to erase the border and open the flood gates to migrants. During the election I even read a Brietbart headline about Clinton’s “Plan to Abolish the Border in Her First 100 Days.” Of course the article itself actually did mention the fact that Clinton had proposed to increase border security, but it was buried very far down in the article underneath a large amount of vague xenophobia.
Here’s the problem that Liberals tend to miss: migrant workers, particularly those working in agriculture and construction are being hugely exploited. They make hardly a subsistence wage, and often times services they rely upon are overpriced and owned by their employers.
Further, many of the economic conditions that have caused them to leave their homes have been caused, directly or indirectly, by the United States. Neocolonialism is a thing, and it encourages many countries to pay their citizens a pittance to extract natural resources and sell them cheaply to the United States. Our government has a long record of overthrowing governments that did not fall in line with these interests. This destabilizes nations, leading to migration to more stable and prosperous countries.
This is further exacerbated by our war on drugs, which influences US policies abroad. It enables black market forces internationally, which in turn drives instability and violence, leading to conditions which lead these people to leave their homes.
This is something that both parties have failed to substantiatively address. Whoever governs after Trump needs to proactively deal with these problems.
Even if I were to assume that a fully nativist immigration policy were desirable, addressing these problems would be a core pillar of my solutions. But instead, Democrats ignore it. And Trump and his ilk tend to pursue the most cruel solutions possible. Indeed, like so many other issues, conservative solutions seem only interested in punishing the most vulnerable, and not addressing, or even accelerating conditions which have caused the root problem to begin with.
Honestly, the notion of being tough on undocumented migrants itself ignores many of the realities on the ground. I live in the former province of Nueva España. Many towns and institutions around me bear Spanish names. And borders are artificial constructs. They are much more culturally porous than people who live away from them conceive.
As a result, communities in places like Los Angeles tend to integrate immigrants fairly seamlessly. I wasn’t in the habit of asking my neighbors about their citizenship, but I can easily imagine that I had undocumented neighbors. And remember, immigrants to the United States statistically commit much less crime than citizens.
So where we’re at is that some are concerned with respect for the rule of law. That many who don’t have the benefit of a common border have been waiting for years to do it legally. Well honestly, I don’t have any easy answers to those concerns.
But what I will say is that the solution that is starting to be implemented is needlessly callous, and will not only affect the migrants themselves, but will also have a cascade effect though those communities.
Imagine that someone here has been here 20 years. They’ve obeyed the law. But their toddler is a citizen. Are we going to set a dangerous precedent of stripping people of citizenship without due process because of their parentage? Are we going to deport parents, and put tens of thousands of children into the foster care system?
So even if you’re concerned about the “waiting in line” element here, I’m going to say that your cure is better than the problem. There will be drastic legal and social ramifications much more severe than providing a simple “pathway to citizenship.”
Further, think of the citizens of Hispanic descent who will be caught up in the dragnet. There have been times where I have lost both my birth certificate and social security card. Many people don’t have diver’s licenses. Imagine being a citizen, having had lost your paperwork, and being detained. Can you afford a lawyer? If not, can you afford being in a detention center for weeks waiting for a public defender?
So Trump’s new immigration policy isn’t targeting troublemakers. As someone who has lived in California his whole life, I can confidently assert that immigrants are what make my state awesome. Documentation does not determine the quality of a person. Instead, these new policies are a broadside against entire communities. It’s needlessly cruel. It is spite towards Latinos manifesting as policy.