Immigration reform now, why it matters
Right now, the increasing number of migrants coming as far from Honduras are traveling highly dangerous journeys and heading north. Hondurans, who travel much farther than Mexican migrants, face far more fatal decisions as they hold high hopes to pick up work in the United States. They carry the heavy load of experiences that scar them for life, often picked up through their travel in cities like Veracruz, where one third of all kidnappings countrywide have occurred. They carry no more than a U.S. phone number of a family member and the clothes on their backs. Seen as easy merchandise, they are commercialized and sold for labor and sexual slavery.
Father Alejandro Solalinde, a dedicated migrant supporter in Chiapas, tells VICE in an article titled Crossing Mexico's Border, “Because we live in a world where the human being doesn't matter, he has a price, and anyone of us can be kidnapped. And they can too, but the difference between them and us, is that no one will look for them, no one will complain.”
Children as young as 7, take this journey alone. They run away in search for their mothers, hoping to reunite with them after countless birthdays and Christmas holidays. The gifts and money sent by their mothers in the U.S., who work up to 60 hours a week to keep them fed twice a day and send them to school, does little to restrain their yearn for the motherly love they see daily from other mothers still in their home countries.
With the highly partisan divide among U.S. government leaders and citizens, the doubling of the number of illegal immigrants traveling to the U.S. has left Barack Obama cornered, pulled left and right in the ongoing debate on immigration reform.
As detention centers overflow with unaccompanied Latin American children, the mothers run out of time as their kids run out of false hope. Despite their sacrifices, their children give in to the gangs, violence, and drugs that have been infecting the lives of most families in Latin America.
While President Obama treads on the familiar path of broken promises known to U.S. politics, his aims to please the Tea Party are in vain. Republicans mock him more than ever and the Democratic Party warns him against action. As expected, he has postponed action once again, and Americans are forced to wait until after the elections.
The large number of Latino and other minority groups, as well as conscientious leaders and advocates who have supported Obama, are angered by the betrayal of their President who has promised much and given little. Are the lives of these children and families even considered, as more than an immigration statistic that fuels the politics of debate? If morality and logic were often the center of all legal conclusions, immigrant children and adults would gain amnesty. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Whether or not Obama works to keep his promise of legalization of undocumented immigrants as he continues to stress, there is not much he can do without the approval of congress. And republican congress members are certainly doing everything possible to delay any progressive change.
According to CNN, there are a few actions Obama can actually take through the means of executive action on illegal immigration. Among these, he may "tweak" procedures to prioritize who will be heard and prosecuted in deportation hearings, increase border patrol security, place some of the children in a program in which they will be able to attend school and work (not a path to legalization), and provide-to some states-an alternative to detention through ankle bracelets and weekly check-ins.
Although immigrant activists advocate for more green cards and even complete legalization through "a blanket" executive decision, such acts would violate the Constitution. And as for the righties, who would absolutely look forward to denying applications for political asylum and bus all the children back to their home countries, there are laws that deny them those wishes.
And yet, as President Obama stated back in August on ABC news, Americans "don't want me just standing around twiddling my thumbs," and he expects to fix the broken immigration system through executive action if needed.
Obama has been president since 2008. Congress has refused to pass anything that he dares sign as means for equal economic and social opportunity. After years of wait and delay it begs the question, is the fear-mongering economic impact illegal immigration can have on the U.S. actually reasonable?
In 2006, records show that at least 5% of the workforce in agriculture, construction and other areas, were composed of illegal immigrants. It is predicted that if illegal immigrants were to be taken out of the social security system, the economy would collapse, given that they have contributed up to $12 billion dollars in 2007. As many experts have recognized, the U.S. economy is in fact heavily dependent on illegal immigrants. Unfortunately, racial profiling combined with criminal and even terrorism accusations, are largely due to the lack of support for legalization.
Immigrants are known to take jobs that pay below the minimum wage that most Americans don’t want. The overall quality of American living depends on the cheap labor provided by illegal immigrants. Those opposing affirmative action can only conclude their own racial stereotypes and mediocre judgment, which public universities are purposefully trying to change to allow diversity in education and society to prosper.
Still, Republicans and anti-immigration activists argue that the economic and social tragedies of Latin America, is “not our problem”. The fact that the U.S. forced Latin American governments into free trade agreements and helped ignite gang related war that has forced Central American working families and farm workers to look for jobs elsewhere - makes it our problem. In the 1980s support for the illegal Contra war in Nicaragua and the military dictatorships that ruled El Salvador and Guatemala, provoked the social catastrophes that laid the groundwork for the current crisis.
Central American economies continue to survive on the little money sent from the U.S. by disintegrated families and through “immigrants who return home with new skills, education, and less tolerance for corruption” as stated in Sonia Nazario’s “Enrique’s Journey,” a novel composed of series of articles published in the Los Angeles Times. However, this is not enough.
If American citizens do not want more immigration from Latin America, Americans should assume responsibility for our own government failure that intervened, and assist Central American governments to improve their economy that has become overly corrupted and above all, incapable to serve the basic necessities of their people. The case is not simply a matter of enforcing enough law on the U.S. border; it is about mending the problems that the U.S. continues to build.
While the U.S. government runs on billions of dollars invested in oil companies, corporate fraud, wars, and invests in the famous 1% wealthy class members that hold much of U.S. money in their back pockets, American citizens pick on the poorest and most hard-working people to blame for our economic failures.
The November elections are nearing, and the ignorance and capitalistic nature of the American population is delaying progressive change. Although President Obama has until 2016, he and congress have had the opportunity to change the course of American politics since 2008.
While children, mothers, pregnant young women, and other detained Latin American immigrants await for their deportation hearings, New York Times has reported news of sexual harassment and bribery within the deportation center of Miami, which only leads to questioning - what other forms of injustice will immigrants have to face before the upcoming elections in November?