To the Editor:
As Congress wrestles with immigration reform, it appears that folks of all political stripes are convinced that our current system is broken and needs fixing. This brokenness is seen when:
• Hardworking individuals are detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, held in custody, and deported — uprooted from their families, jobs, and communities, separating families and leaving wives and children with no means of support. Who benefits from this?
• Millions of workers are forced into an underground economy, made vulnerable to exploitation, wage theft and obscene underpayment by unscrupulous employers. Does this make America proud?
• Thousands die in the Arizona desert — forced off their lands by unfair tariffs and subsidies embedded in NAFTA and other unfair “free trade” treaties that allow U.S. imports to undersell their local products — coming here to find work to support their families back home. Can this be called humane?
• Millions of migrants, who are also consumers and taxpayers, are denied an immigrant status that could mean higher wages, more tax revenue, and an upward spiral in consumption, jobs, and prosperity for us all. Does this make practical, economic sense?
• Billions of dollars are poured into “border security” — walls, detection devices, patrols — that can never stop the flow of desperate persons seeking a path to survival and a better life. Our country has been built by persons like this — our forebears. Aren’t we shooting ourselves in the foot by trying to keep them out?
• More than 11 million undocumented persons (no human being is “illegal”) are already contributing to our economy, and could benefit us much more if their status were regularized. Among these are the so-called “dreamers,” young people brought here by their parent who could be our future scientists, doctors, inventors if allowed to get the training and opportunity their abilities deserve. Why deprive ourselves of this rich pool of human potential?
Comprehensive immigration reform must be passed this year. We need to fix this broken system that harms so many of God’s children. In a subsequent letter, I hope to tell how.