Immigration

THE SITUATION DESERVES COMPASSION AND INTELLIGENCE

The rhetoric about immigration has gone beyond bigotry and racism to simple ignorance of the facts. What created the situation? What should or can be done about it?

Let us begin with some facts. There were an estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2016, down from 12.2 million in 2009. It appears that President Obama’s policies were having a positive impact without a wall or cold heartless tactics. Of the total number of unauthorized immigrants, Mexicans now comprise roughly 50% or 5.6 million, down from 6.4 million in 2009. Mexicans no longer make up the majority of unauthorized immigrants. Non-Mexican unauthorized immigrants, primarily from Central America and Asia have increased from 2009 to 2015.

A rising share of unauthorized immigrants (66%) have lived in the U.S. for at least ten years or longer. This was one of the reasons for President Obama creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program. Data shows the median age of a child arriving with their parents into the U.S. was 6 years old. With these kids here for over ten years, they have grown up, gone to school, thought of themselves as American and made future plans as Americans. The armed services accepts them into the military service. Then we have the heartless audacity to threaten to send them back to a country they have no remembrance or allegiance to? That is more than bigotry. That is meanness. A recent on-line poll showed 80% of Americans are against reversing DACA.

The U.S. workforce includes 8 million of the total 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants equating to about 5% of the total U.S. workforce. More than half of these unauthorized immigrants work in just four occupations; cleaning and maintenance, food prep and serving, production, and construction. In addition, roughly 60% live in just six states, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and California. The U.S. immigration rules are overly complex and cumbersome. Reading through the guidelines it is easy to see why people do not understand them and therefore ignore them. I’ll simplify what I found. The U.S. admits 675,000 legal immigrants, with a calculated sub-set of this number for family based visas. The guidelines include family relations, valuable skill sets, age, marital status and financial requirements. These categories are further subdivided into a multitude of factors and relationships. It places limits on the number of people from any one country, and then it invites countries to participate who have not sent many people to the U.S of late. There are other additional acceptance numbers on refugees and humanitarian relief programs as set by the president and congress. The final immigration guideline is for 10,000 slots which you can “BUY” for the sum of $500,000 spent on a JOB CREATING ENTERPISE”.

Immigration is a difficult and complex phenomenon. However, we should not punish people for our own mistakes and shortcomings in managing the problem for many years. As with DACA we need a permanent amnesty program for people who can show they have been in the country a specified number of years. We need to manage the influx and number of people from all over the globe. Other countries do it, why can’t we. We need to establish reporting procedures to ensure temporary visa grants are just that, temporary, not a work around for planned permanent residence. We need to show some compassion and intelligence, and just maybe quit starting wars that lead to mass migration of people in permanent conflict zones.