This Presidential Election Year, perhaps more than prior ones, the political demagogues have been out in full-force, attacking undocumented immigrants—both current and ones that arrived even decades ago. Rather than consider the actual situation and trying to develop some sort of coherent solution, they are using Immigrants as the target at which to spew their hatred and racism. Perhaps they even wish to maintain the status quo for the future election cycles!
Starting from the idea of deporting 11 million people—if they could actually round them all up— would take many, many years and cost trillions of dollars. It reminds me of the story about a small child, digging a hole at the edge of the shore, and then taking bucket after bucket of sea water, trying to put the ocean into their small hole. Starting with impossible goals just never works!
The people who come to any developed country are seeking a better life for them and their families. Just like you or I, they would want a job that pays a decent wage, a home, good health care, and an education that will prepare their children for the future world, which they will encounter. We have numerous shuttered military bases at which questionable immigrants can be segregated, vetted, and they could perform most of the labor around the camps.
There are two linked articles, which I hope you will read. One is about 14 year-old Elena (no last name given) who, along with her family, had been stopped at the southern border of Mexico, and they are waiting to learn whether they will be deported back home, or not. The second article, about 19 year-old Larissa Martinez, is a much happier one where, during her high school Valedictory Speech, she revealed that she is an undocumented immigrant.
Back to the first vignette: In the Central American nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the drug gangs cannot be controlled by the police. Young children are forced to be lookouts, young girls have no choice but to become gang member’s “girl friends,” which means a life of being a courier and a mistress. Refusal can mean death—both for them and their family. Nicolas Kristof’s column, from the NY Times, is linked as follows:
Her mother brought Larissa Martinez, along with her younger sister, from Mexico, across the Rio Grande when she was 13 years old. They were seeking refuge with family members, who were legal immigrants, in Texas. Her mother applied several times to be placed on the waiting list for legal status; however, that takes 15 years. Also, Larissa arrived too late to have qualified for the “DREAMer Program,” which enables qualified students to avoid deportation. She worked hard in school, however, and graduated Number One in her high school class. Larissa will leave for New Haven, Connecticut—Yale University—with a full scholarship, in August. Her story, from Kera News, is linked as follows:
These two stories show the younger sides of what some immigrants have gone through; however, I believe that it is evident that these parents love their children and were willing to face perilous journeys, perhaps after weighing them against what their children’s lives would be back home. No matter where you were born in the so-called developed world, you can realize that its was only a happenstance that we were born into a life of safety and a worthwhile future. These children were not. Would you trade?