Drawn-out debate dehumanizes immigrants

Rebecca Rico, Staff Writer

Immigration isn’t and has never been a problem. The American government, among other nations–such as Britain continue to disregard the lives of those crossing their borders. Leaders of first world nations display their caring facade while continuing to write policies that make life harder for many immigrants. People with nationalist views continue to enable the mistreatment of immigrants. 

Until those who have the privilege of living in a first world country experience life outside of it, they cannot truly understand why it is necessary to fight for the rights of immigrants and refugees. 

From all corners of the world, people run from war, poverty, corruption and natural disasters. As bad as the United States can get, people have a better chance at a half decent life here. This country is regarded so highly outside of America, it’s almost comical. But I get it, because when you come from nothing, this place is everything. 

 Thousands of lives should never depend on a simple argument because the issue is far more complex than a yes or no debate. What we fail to remember is that people are being discussed, not objects, and not hypothetical scenarios. It is understandable that people are afraid for the future of the country, but it is not acceptable to let these fears stop individuals or even governments from helping others that are fleeing pain. 

The word “immigrant” doesn’t even do these people justice. It must be called what it is. Many of those who find themselves traveling to America are simply seeking refuge. 

The Muslim Ban of early 2017 made President Donald Trump’s goal of limiting entry for foreigners a reality. Although Trump’s ban has been modified multiple times and is downplayed by the media, the ban still has devastating effects. According to the New York Times, the countries currently on the list are Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. The policy prioritizes immigrants from religious minorities in Muslim majority countries. To make the policy look less Islamophobic, Trump added North Korea and Venezuela to the list. Many of the countries on the list are currently experiencing tremendous humanitarian crises. The indefinite ban of Syrians is alarming at a time when more than five million people have fled the country, according to Aljazeera. The U.S. has lowered the amount of refugees it’s willing to take in to 30,000, the lowest ceiling a president has placed on refugee programs since it’s creation in 1980, the New York Times reports.

Along with ongoing ban litigations, the situation at the Mexican-American border expands. The dilemma at the southern border started a long time ago; family separations are nothing new to the U.S. government and its agencies. The 2012 case of Encarnacion Romero is a prime example of what happens when government actions go unchecked. According to CNN, a Missouri court ruled that Romero was unfit to be the mother to her child, Carlitos Romero, simply because she was undocumented. Carlitos, now known as Joseph, lives with his “adoptive” parents, a Missouri couple who was given the child against the mother’s consent. Romero was deported to Guatemala without her baby, who would be about 12 years old now. 

The Romero case raised concern for some witnessing the separation of families at the Southern border. Many of the people at the border are Central Americans experiencing corruption, gang violence and poverty. In January of this year, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the protected status would not be renewed for Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Sudan. Many of the people trying to cross the Mexican-American border come from these countries. A federal judge in California, however, temporarily blocked Trump’s attempt to end their status and as of now, the future of Temporary Protected Status recipients remains uncertain, according to The Washington Post.  

As refugees from Central America attempt to cross the border into the 

U. S., border officials have separated families. The camps where the children of detained families are ill suited. Just this month, a caravan of Central American refugees was identified in Southern Mexico, well on its way to the Mexican-American border. Trump announced that military personnel will meet the immigrants at the border. Along with a bigger force at the border, Trump claims he can end birthright citizenship to the children of non-citizen parents and threatens to do it without Congress. 

Trump is also considering renewing the separation policy despite promising to reunite families. The administration believes it is a good way to deter undocumented immigrants. The statement itself is unsettling. How can someone see people as just problems? Trump legitimately ran these words through his head, he played out the scenario of babies torn away from their mothers in his head and decided that it would be a just punishment. It doesn’t matter if someone is undocumented or not. People do not always have the means of going through the legal processes of gaining entrance into the U.S. 

It takes years and humiliating processes to get a green card. There are accusations, there are demeaning immigration officers in your face and there are fees and bills from applications and lawyers. The people on their way to the U.S.-Mexican border have no way of knowing if they qualify for asylum, but that doesn’t matter to them because being stuck at the border for days is better than not knowing when they’re going to eat next or whether or not they’ll be kidnapped, raped or killed in their home countries.

 Trump’s rhetoric and that of others who think just like him cannot be dismissed. At the end of the day, they are not just words. As a country, we have never truly been united, but as time goes on and different groups of people are targeted by politicians and extremists, we see an even further decline in the morale of people. Trump and people like him make outlandish claims frequently, but the 2016 election proved that the impossible can happen. As a country, there is no willingness to stop attacks on oppressed groups. There’s uproar here and there, but nothing has really changed. As long as it doesn’t affect the bottom line of the most privileged groups in America, none of the issues will be addressed.