Republicans and Democrats side-by-side take on 2020 election
Our Common Story
IAN WAITE, COLLEGE REPUBLICAN CONTRIBUTOR
The system by which the U.S. allowed people from all over the world to begin a new chapter of their life — built upon the safety, stability and prosperity of our democracy — used to be the envy of the world.
Today, it is in peril.
What is at stake is the livelihoods of millions of people, many of whom are American citizens and many who are not but wish only to toil for the benefit of their families and the advancement of the American experiment. The fate of all Americans and non-naturalized immigrants are inextricably linked, and both will be damned if we cannot answer two fundamental questions. First, why does this system matter? Second, how do we fix it?
To answer the first question, we need to look no further than the stories of Marcelino and Johnson Farms in Northern Michigan. Marcelino is part of a migrant community of seasonal workers who spend winters laboring in Florida and summers in Michigan on various orchards. They travel between these places annually, but in 2017 fewer migrants started making the journey. Many are here illegally and fear that if they make the trip, they may be caught and deported. It is worth noting that Marcelino has been in the U.S. since 1989. He poses no national security threat and has spent the past 30 years working to the benefit of the American economy.
There is no reason why someone in Marcelino’s situation should not have the option of a pathway to citizenship or a long-term work visa available to them.In fact, a continued decline in participation from individuals in a similar situation to Marcelino would come at the detriment of the American economy.
When asked by NPR why he doesn’t hire Americans, the farmer who hired Marcelino, Dean Johnson, said, “We’ve tried. We really have. Sometimes people come out on a day like today and they’ll pick one box, and then they’re gone. They just don’t want to do it.”
A strong economy means American workers are taking better paying, high-skilled jobs. Employers like Mr. Johnson are willing to pay more to entice workers to stay, but only if we create an environment that allows immigrants to feel comfortable working in the open.
This can only be our reality if we fix our broken immigration system. As of now, it costs an employer $2,000 per worker to hire someone with an H-2A temporary work visa. This cost is an obstacle for small operations that need to increase their worker capacity and the bureaucratic process that grants these visas is in desperate need of simplification and cost reduction.
Additionally, if our friend Marcelino wanted to become a citizen, the cost for applying is at least $725 in initial fees. Spending that kind of money to simply start the process is a hurdle that disincentivizes citizenship and encourages illegal immigration. The best tool we have to combat illegal immigration, is to make the naturalization/work visa processes easier and cheaper to navigate.
Finally, the heartbreaking and horrendous conditions at our southern border cannot be ignored. Families being separated and forced to live without basic essential hygiene products is inexcusable. That is why in June, Republicans led the vote on a $4.6 billion humanitarian relief bill meant to address these conditions. Accelerating the rate at which we process these asylum requests is our most effective possible solution to these overwhelmed facilities.
If we muster the political will to implement these changes and more, we may well improve the standard of living for everyone in this country.
The War On Immigration
ERIC DARYABEIGI, GMU DEMOCRATS CONTRIBUTOR
The immigration crisis that our country faces isn’t due to immigration from Latin America. The real crisis is due to Donald Trump and the war that he has waged on both legal and illegal immigrants.
Trump ran his 2016 campaign on the position of building a giant wall on the southern border — which would replace the Statue of Liberty as the monument symbolically representing America.
For the past four years, Trump has continually attacked all that the Statue of Liberty stands for, starting by his statement against Mexican immigrants, saying that, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
Then he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” The president calls African nations “s*itholes,” and migrants of color “invaders.”
Trump’s rhetoric has been quoted by and has inspired extremists to commit hate crimes against people and communities of color, such as the massacres of Latinos in El Paso, Jews in Pittsburgh and Muslims in New Zealand. He tweeted that four congresswomen of color should go back to the “broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Most recently, he stated that those suffering from the effects of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas should not be allowed entry into America because the Bahamas contain “some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.”
One of the most despicable acts of the Trump administration has been their travel ban or “Muslim ban.” The ban has been successful in keeping more than one hundred million Muslims from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria out of our country.
Around 9,500 family members of U.S. citizens have been prevented access to their family.
Since he first stated “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” on Dec. 7, 2015, radical Islamic terrorism in the west and America has decreased significantly.
But for some reason, the people from these countries are still considered a threat by the Trump administration, which was supported by a 5-4 ruling upholding the ban from the Supreme Court on June 26, 2018.
Trump was so eager to ban Muslisms from America that it was one of his first big executive orders, which was quickly implemented exactly one week after he had been inaugurated on Jan. 27, 2017.
Another disgusting act by the Trump administration has been their treatment of Hispanic families at the border. Children are separated from their families and both children and adults are treated like animals.
Trump calls this a “deterrent” to slow the migration of families coming from Central and South America, but it is just humiliation and inhumane cruelty to serve as a sign to all minorities that this is how you’re viewed and will be treated in Trump’s America.
A better deterrent would be to address the cause of the mass migration, which is the poor living conditions and corruption that defines many Central and South American countries.
The most effective way to help these countries would be through strong diplomacy and aid, but Trump shows little interest in diplomacy and leadership and aid to these countries has been cut during his three years in office.
The Trump administration has also taken action to reduce legal migration to America. The previous refugee admission ceiling of 110,000 people has been reduced to 20,000 and the Trump administration wants to lower that number to zero, effectively shutting down America’s refugee admissions program.
Lawful immigration processes, such as applying for a green card and citizenship, have been slowed down and ever since 2017, the backlog of pending green card applications has increased by more than 35 percent.
A denaturalization task force has been created to strip citizenship from naturalized citizens and the administration has already referred 100 cases to the Justice Department for prosecution.
Immigration is personal to me, as both of my parents are immigrants — a French Mother and a Iranian Father.
These past four years have been hell. America spoke loudly in 2016 and it seems as if my president does not respect me or my family for who we are or what we represent. Immigrants are some of the best citizens and role models in America, but Trump uses the highest office in the land and the most respected in the world, to humiliate and dehumanize those who are different, diverse and who make this country great.
We all have ancestors who immigrated from somewhere else and immigration is what has made, and continues to make, America the best nation in the world.