“Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I’ll piss on ’em
that’s what the Statue of Bigotry says” Lou Reed, Dirty Boulevard
Earlier this week, as most Mississippi families found themselves consumed by the excitement and anxiety of going back to school, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers went to poultry processing plants in central Mississippi and detained 680 workers whose documentation seemed questionable. Almost half were released within twenty-four hours. The rest remain in facilities while the law reckons with the balance between its own needs and basic human dignity.
We are all complicit in their misery. We like cheap protein, and we like it when we can buy blueberries for less than $2.50 a pint because they were picked by (probably undocumented) immigrants. The owners of food processing facilities and farms like maximizing profit. It’s the perfect marriage of capitalistic greed and need, and has been since the days of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.
I don’t pretend to understand the complexities of immigration law. However, I am certain that if the American Dream has any cultural currency on the international level, it must incorporate the notion that our nation allows all people to advance in the direction of their dreams–that the acceptance of certain core values is more important than birthplace, religion, or ethnicity. Unless we no longer want to be known as a nation of immigrants, we should welcome those who will embrace those core values, regardless of color or creed. Free those nascent Mississippians. Help them earn the right to be American citizens.
Some may claim that this is tantamount to opening our borders, or that it advocates lawlessness. That’s certainly the position of Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who’s currently engaged in a Twitter spat with Rep. Ilhan Omar. However, aside from being undocumented, it appears that the people detained in Mississippi lived within the realm of the law. They worked hard, went to church, paid taxes, and sent their kids to school so their lives would be better. What’s more American than that?
I’ll close with the last lines of “The New Colossus,” the Emma Lazarus poem that’s inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty:
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Immigration poses a lot of problems for good, innocent people. However, there are people who deserved to be deported and taken out of the country. If the immigrant poses no immediate threat to the country I believe they should be given the opportunity to become a legal resident in the United States. If they are able to, then they should be given the choice to stay as they are a working member of society. On the contrary, if the individual poses a threat, or has been conducting illegal business they should be removed as soon as possible.
I too believe that immigrants should have the chance to enter our great country, but there is a proper way to go about gaining entry here. Many people believe that illegal immigrants are not criminals but in reality they really are. Crossing the border into America illegally is just that, illegal. I am not saying that these are a bad people, or that their intentions were not honorable, but the law is there for a reason. Now I personally do not think that these laws are greatest, but just because we do not agree with a law does not give us the right to violate it. There are certain actions that can be taken within the bounds of the law to change it, legally. People get so caught up with the idea that ICE is a racist hate group that rips families apart, when in reality they are just following the letter of the law. Every person that ICE processes and deports is either a known criminal with offenses, along with being an illegal alien, or has been given their day in court to prove if their plea for asylum is legitimate. ICE targets criminals and, no matter who you are, no one is above the letter of the law. So instead of detesting those who are enforcing government rule, we should work to change the government instead of encouraging the propagation of more illegal activity.
I personally believe that if we expect immigrants to come here legally, we must revise the immigration policies and make immigration more accessible. We can’t expect people to pay this insane price (especially with jobs that don’t pay enough to support a family much less the fees required for immigration) when there is no guarantee they will be granted the right to immigrate. With that said, if there has to be a monetary price set for immigration, applicants must get their money back if they aren’t approved for citizenship. As a country we can not criticize people for the way they do things if we refuse to make revisions on an already corrupt policy. Yes, people should immigrate legally, but as a country we have to recognize that our system must change. No one deserves to be punished for doing what’s best for their life. And for anyone who thinks my views might be radical, you have to understand that American companies establish factories in Latin and South America that exploit the poor and barely compensate them with a livable wage. How can we expect people to pay an absurdly large price when we barely pay them what they need to survive? How can we ethically tear families apart and leave children without their parents when their main reason for already living in the US is to raise the money to legally immigrate?
I wonder if the Native Americans shared the same sentiment with Samantha that foreigners “create problems for good, innocent people” upon the sight of the Mayflower. My roommate is an immigrant, and in the 11 days that I’ve come to know her, I cannot find any sign of ‘problematic’ behavior. This notion that America is some pure, unblemished nation that need not be tarnished by foreigners is disgustingly ignorant. The overanalyzing/criticism of immigrants fails to acknowledge the shortcomings inside of America’s borders. The words ‘Pakistani immigrant’, ‘Saudi Arabian immigrant’, ‘Middle-Eastern’, or ‘Muslim’ are synonymous with the word ‘terrorist’ in the American consciousness. What the American consciousness fails to recognize are the US-born terrorists, such as Timothy Loehmann or George Zimmerman. I’ve never seen an immigrant school shooter. Immigrants don’t shoot up synagogues or churches; they know better. Who are these “good, innocent people”? Did the Sandy Hook victims not fit this description? How a student attending a school that prides itself on diversity has the ability to make such a broad, baseless statement is beyond me. Have some tact.
While ICE may not be a racist hate group, the seat that enforces ICE is indisputably a white supremacist and daresay nationalist. When Donald Trump feels comfortable enough telling Senators Illhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to go back to their country on twitter: https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/1200*676/NC_trumpam0715_1500x845.jpg
and when Trump refers to Haiti as a ‘Shithole country’: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-attacks-protections-for-immigrants-from-shithole-countries-in-oval-office-meeting/2018/01/11/bfc0725c-f711-11e7-91af-31ac729add94_story.html
the motive behind the raids is clear. Many businesses that I have patronized in my hometown of Jackson, MS have decided to stop business until the raids are over, due to fear of deportation. I know it is easy to say that if these businesses were legitimate, they would stay open. Citizenship is a piece of paper that says that you’ve passed the test and were sworn in. The wait to apply for citizenship, or to even apply for asylum is often very long. But what does a piece of paper have to do with one’s ability to feed their families in a moral way? We would never call Nike an illegitimate business (or stop patronizing their brand), even though they have admitted to using child labor and paying employees in foreign countries well below a livable wage. https://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/1020-01.htm
In sum, ICE raids instill fear in people that are just trying to make an honest living (and/or flee war and famine) and are excessive in some areas. I personally do not believe in the inherent danger of immigrants. Everyone who is not a Native American that lives inside the Continental United State’s borders are immigrants; we all came from somewhere. I think that penalizing immigrants that do not have documentation is wrong, because many of the people subject to ICE raids are innocent, hardworking people with businesses and families here. We don’t deport natural born criminals, so why do immigrants get the boot?
Illegal immigrants are people. Contrary to popular rhetoric, they are not animals and they are not-subhuman. Most of these people are seeking asylum, not transporting drugs or committing human trafficking. They deserve kindness and basic human respect, two things which they are currently being denied. Clearly, a vetting process should be in place to distinguish the minute percentage of illegal immigrants who are in fact criminals. But putting innocent people in cages (because, let’s be real, that’s what the detainment centers consist of) is not okay. Sub-human treatment is not okay. There is a logical and humanitarian approach to illegal immigration, and that approach is far from the one in place today. I urge my fellow Mississippians to fight for the rights of those who lack the privilege that we hold. Kindness supersedes policy and politics. Compassion and love hold precedence.
There is a simple solution to the illegal immigration problem; however, it will not be a solution that all would agree upon. My proposal is that we use government funding, that would otherwise be spent on a useless wall, to create more immigration courts to assist in creating more honorable US citizens, while deporting those that do not meet the cut do to illegal activity. Many people may not like this for a few simple reasons. This will allow immigrants to become US citizens and to be granted some basic human rights in the workforce. This will mean that the government will no longer be able to overlook the mistreatment of Hispanic people simply because they were unable to learn our language. This would mean that once the “threat” of the border crisis is gone, the government would have to explain why all of the problems that they blamed on immigration are still happening. We would have to come to terms with the fact that we have created our own problems. We have been shooting ourselves in the foot and yelling at the person of color across the border who isn’t even holding a gun.
We need to wake up. This country needs to wake up, and realize that nearly all of our problems are self inflicted. Everyone continues to berate innocent immigrants for seeking refuge, while crime floods our streets because due to poverty. We proclaim that terrorists are coming into our country through the border, while we sit and become numb to the acts of terrorism from our own citizens. We have slowly began to call our the racist ways of our government, yet ignore how much of a blatant racist lie it it to claim that all Hispanics are terrorists or crime lords. We claim that immigrants are ruining our economy, when a good portion of our population take advantage of the welfare. This country is becoming a dumpster fire and we are the one’s holding the lighter and continuing to simply toss in more fuel to the flames.
Personally, I believe that ICE raids should not be funded as much as it is, as it is a waste of time, money, and effort! The reason ICE exists is to capture immigrants that have illegally crossed the border, and deport them back to their respective countries; however, the reason immigrants are illegally coming into this country is because they want a better life, but if they are not educated, they will not really be useful to society at all. If we instated a program where ICE still existed, but was less funded, then that would be better.
Imagine your parent dropping you off on the first day of school and they never come back to pick you up. Imagine sleeping in your bed, noting the bed your parents worked hard for, and then the next night sleeping on the floor with a foil-like blanket to comfort you. Imagine being told of all the great things America could bring to immigrants, forgetting you are undocumented, consequently erasing your ideology of America. Imagine believing the Statue of Liberty. Imagine running for your life all the way to the United States and being denied access to the rights the guy to your right will have. There is documented and undocumented. There is morality and law. Moral can influence law, but the law does not always determine someone’s fate rightly. Basically, the law is not always right. Imagine being only a child at a dank point in your life. No child left behind, oh only except under ICE. Children that were living pure in America being mixed with the actual endangered children that were forced into a gang. Some being brought innocently with their parents and some knowing the reason. Mixed in cages with children coming to the country alone. Mixed with children who know no English. Basically, they all come from many different backgrounds that all deserve an open minded judge in court, deserve proper representation, and deserve to be comforted instead of torn apart by the consequences of the law. I agree with proper process of becoming a citizen because others should not be a resident of an area without knowing the do’s and dont’s’ of where they live. The process of becoming a citizen of the United States is strenuous but has purpose. Some are not even aware there being a process to become a citizen, like some children coming illegally. Everyone knows that it does not feel well to be punished for something you did not know was not allowed in the first place. It is not fair to be treated like a criminal when you are not, no matter your nationality or racial background. Then again these camps are ran by some angry, some passionate, some racist, some homophobic, and/or some accepting people over a place mixed with innocents and true criminals. Even if they are safe for the people of the United States, they may not always have it good in court just like some people already citizens of this country. Some people can be taken by ICE from intuition or suspicion like minorities that are citizens of the U.S. being arrested. As a whole, the prison system is comparable to Trump Camps because both systems are flooded with some sick people that cannot be properly held accountable for other sick people of the world. There should be better authority handling innocents and criminals of the land. Erase impure opinion-based figures and replace them with honest, factual figures to free the uncared for. Just knowing that not everyone cares as much as the other person does not help this worldly issue. If there were proper living conditions and treatment, many others, as well as me, would not hate the duty of ICE as much as we do. If it were clean and proper, I would not mind as much. If most of the immigrants were not scared, I would not mind as much as I do.