The Immigration Discussion No One Seems Ready to Have

On June 26, 2019, millions of people watched ten Democratic candidates take the stage in a debate. One conversation had related to illegal immigration. Yet, there were some points missed that it appears no one, be it politicians or an average citizen, is truly ready to address. For the sake of clarity, I will refer to it as “illegal immigration” although that is not a popular term. By this term, I mean not following the rules of law in a land that has a legal immigration process. And, yes, I realize many laws are convoluted and that many people who would make fine citizens cannot afford to go that route. I am not referring to an individual as illegal. People are not illegal. They are not illegitimate. I am using “illegal” to differentiate the two parts of the (average) process.

“Unaccompanied Minors”

This morning while returning from the grocery store I heard a talk radio discussion on a conservative show that referenced the overflow of “unaccompanied minors” and that’s why the detention facilities are so full.

There wasn’t a single mention of the fact that many of the minors in the facility are considered unaccompanied now because they were with their parents…and their parents were deported. There’s also that uncomfortable fact of no soap, what appears to be rampant infection, and babies essentially taking care of babies. Oh, and the uncomfortable fact that the administration went from “Yes, sure, we’ll eventually return all of the children to their parents” to “Oh, yeah, about that…we can’t.”

We are becoming (again) a nation known for baby stealing from the poor. And if you think I’m blowing this out of proportion, I’d like to point you to the historical roots of the juvenile justice system. As more people moved to the city to look for work, it scared the people with money. Children were considered delinquents because they came from poor OR immigrant families. And they were swooped up and stuck in “schools.” The goal was to make the boys good, productive, working citizens and the girls into housewives. If you don’t believe me, you’re welcome to consult any intro to juvenile justice text that includes the American history of the juvenile system. Oh, and abuse was rampant in those facilities. Then, of course, we have a dirty history of taking children away from indigenous families and eventually giving those children to white families.

Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. 

Of course, some of the stuff about the detention centers was mentioned, but there’s a big difference between talk and action. The children never should have been separated. That’s inhumane. We’ll make all these laws to protect the unborn, but when it comes to children on the planet whose parents brought them here and they’re taken away and can’t be returned… Well… hey, not our problem, right?

Violent Attacks on Legal Immigrants

Recently, a woman complained about her son being bullied in school. She and her family are here legally, by the way. When the incident was reported, she was beaten unconscious. Some of the things she and her son heard included for them to go back to where they came from, and that they were illegal.

The atmosphere created by the “protect the land at all costs” fervor is creating danger for those who came via legal means.

Ridiculous Comments Toward People Who Aren’t White Enough

And I am sure anyone who doesn’t look like they just stepped out of a tanning booth with their gleaming blonde hair and blue eyes can attest to things they’re told. I have indigenous friends who are often told to “go back to Mexico…we don’t want your kind here.”

Could ignorance be any more prevalent? Is this something that is ever going to be addressed or discussed? There’s a reason why our federal anti-discrimination laws also include the perception of what someone’s race or ethnicity MIGHT be. Because people are clearly stupid and never learned how to just be nice.

The Comparisons Are Ridiculous

One of the most common comparisons I hear is how none of us would like it if someone just walked into our home and said, “This is mine now.”

Here’s why that comparison is absolutely ridiculous… We are talking about crossing into a public space. While there are crimes that occur in public space (you know, like public drunkenness, disturbing the peace), we don’t have anyone screening public parks for pedophiles…and the only way that would work is if every single pedophile was known, caught, documented, and honest. You know, not flying under the radar. Yet we all know the statistics on child sexual abuse. And how it is often undetected.

Your home is private property. You have different rights. The law in most states says that I can’t do things like try to eavesdrop on you or take your picture or video you in your home without your knowledge or your consent. In a public place, it probably isn’t a nice thing to do for me to eavesdrop, take photos, or video you without telling you what I’m doing or why or stopping if you say you don’t want me to do that…but it’s legal. Because it’s a public space.

We have hostile possession laws. In most states, according to property law textbooks (before anyone thinks I’m knee deep in UPL), it’s between 7 and 15 years. There are certain elements that must be met before someone can literally lay claim to your home or land (unless they’re the government, then it is MUCH easier). It also involves….the court and the filing of proper documents for the other person to receive title.

Most Average Folks Do Not Understand Asylum as a Legal Process

Despite working as a paralegal for more than a decade and teaching various legal classes for paralegals, I am by no means a legal expert. I am not a lawyer. However, it is very clear that most average citizens do not understand asylum as a legal process. People do have the right by our laws to come here and file for asylum. According to the federal government:

  1. They must first arrive in the US. It doesn’t say by legal means. It says they are physically present. Don’t believe me? Click this link and then click the little plus sign on step one.
  2. They must apply for asylum. This must be done, in most instances, within one year of arriving in the United States.
  3. Go through the required background checks and fingerprinting.
  4. Go through an interview process.
  5. The asylum officer will make a decision.
  6. The immigrant receives notification of the decision.

So from the basic look of things, those coming in and claiming asylum are at least, at face value, adhering to US law. But…that’s not a discussion most people are ready to have because it doesn’t fit their narrative.

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