Archived Opinion

Here’s the truth about immigration

Here’s the truth about immigration

By Paul Strop • Guest Columnist

I read with interest a recent letter expressing concerns about immigration, truly one of the main problems of this nation and the whole world. I wish to express an alternate view citing, if possible, where I obtained my information. 

The writer seems to believe the Donald Trump propaganda that undocumented immigrants (the writer uses the term “illegal immigrants”) are a financial burden to this country. However, studies from 2005 have documented the “illegal immigrants” pay about $7 billion per year into Social Security (N.Y. Times, April 2005). They will never collect a dime, but the writer will benefit from those dollars.

Some estimates state there are perhaps 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and they are paying every year about $11.6 billion in state and local taxes (Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy, 2016). Illegal immigrants are not eligible for most public services (Noam Chomsky, 2007), so they can hardly be a burden on the welfare system. Furthermore, if one is observant at all, we can see that immigrants spend nearly all the money they earn. They do not live in fancy houses. They spend millions of dollars every year, which supports the U.S. economy.

The second concern the writer expresses regards the safety of ICE agents, whom she describes as “law enforcement” officials. The writer seems to feel that undocumented immigrants are criminals and ICE is helping to keep us safe. When it was first organized, ICE arrested Guatemalan grandmothers dropping the grandkids off at school (grandmothers hardly fit in the category of hardened criminals, but they were easy pickings). Later ICE began to employ more devious tactics like posing as painters, or repairmen, or health care workers, so they could nab unsuspecting immigrants. Now they are using more violent tactics like drawing guns on unarmed people (CIMA, 2019). In June, 2019, in nearby Hendersonville, a 19-year-old youth was riding in a car with his mother when ICE agents in unmarked cars forced the car off the road, approached the car with weapons drawn, and abducted the youth. 

We all remember the ICE raids this summer at the poultry plants in Mississippi, where ICE agents arrested hundreds of brown-skinned folks (obviously not criminals). Of course, if there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., some of them will commit crimes. And of those, even the immigrants themselves say, “go ahead and deport them; we don’t want them here either.” However, deporting everyone with brown skin is not a solution to the criminal problem as the numerous mass shootings in 2019 clearly demonstrates.

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It is understandable that most Americans are fed up with this Trump-appointed police force. Recently in Tennessee (July 2019), ICE attempted to arrest a man when neighbors surrounded his car and refused to move until ICE finally left. The man has lived in the community for more than a decade and is well respected. We Americans have a long history of protecting our friends from oppressors. The actions of this Tennessee neighborhood is not surprising. Perhaps you have read the tale of Anne Frank, the young girl who was hidden from ICE-like agents, who at that time (1940s) were under orders to remove Jewish people from Germany.

Thirdly, the writer extolls Trump policies. His policies, obviously, are (a) to get himself re-elected, (b) to build a wall, (c) to deport “illegal immigrants.” To this end, he has fabricated stories characterizing immigrants as criminals, as a burden to society (note how closely the writer echoes Trump fabrications). By now we Americans should be accustomed to his lies.  The New York Times (April 2019) has found that he has uttered more than 10,000 falsehoods since taking office. 

There is another, perhaps more credible version to explain the great numbers arriving the border. Perhaps Trump has sent emissaries to spread the word throughout Guatemala and Honduras that they are welcome in the U.S., that they can easily enter. Then they come by the thousands (they have never come in such large numbers until now). When this mass of humanity reaches the border they are, of course, turned away. Currently, migrants arriving at our southern border who lack documentation (undocumented) are subject to summary expulsion without a hearing. If a person expresses “credible fear” of returning to their country, they must be interviewed by a DHS agent. This policy is not what the immigrants were led to believe, so it naturally results in resentment and confusion with masses of people hanging around the border.

Trump terms this situation an “invasion,” by which he hopes to frighten people into blindly voting for him, thus achieving policy (a). It also provides an excuse for his build-a-wall policy (b). In short, they are policies created by the Trump administration to justify their political goals. This version is equally credible, or perhaps more so, considering that the “loafer criminal” version comes from the man of 10,000 lies.

The causes of refugee migration throughout the world are many, chief among which are severe droughts (climate change) and violence, both of which are being experienced by the people of the northern triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador). Instead of providing aid to help, trump has announced an end to foreign aid for these nations. This is an example of a policy not intended to solve problems, but to make problems worse (Lucas Guttentag, Stanford University law professor).

In conclusion, we have a person in the White House whose policies only make problems worse. The writer suggests he is a hard-working man. But he seems to spend a lot of time on the golf course and playing with his tweeter (mostly self-promotion). These activities are not usually associated with the verb “work.” His signature accomplishment so far has been to separate small children from their families and put them in cages. A recent (2019) statement from a panel of political experts states that “Donald Trump will probably go down as the worst American president ever.”

(Paul Strop lives in Waynesville.)

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