As everyone surely knows, immigration is a big deal these days in politics. As someone who considers himself a centrist who leans in the direction of sensibility, I feel that some type of reform is needed. Whether that reform is a complete overhaul on how we determine the who, what, when, where, and whys of our immigration policies, or a simple creation of a short term work VISA program for migrant or seasonal workers to work in the agricultural labor field where many Americans do not want to work in the labor intensive, back-breaking profession of large-scale farming.
My writing today is addressing a specific case, one which I only know what I have read in the news media. I have done my due diligence, I have looked on various different media platforms from NPR to Politico to Fox News online. The story involves Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. On Wednesday of last week, May 3rd, the honorable Senator let out a flurry of posts on Twitter aimed at the White House in regards to an immigration case that apparently has been ongoing since December of 2015.
The Pennsylvania Gazette provides a good description of the plight of a mother and her son attempting to escape possible death at the hands of Honduran gangs. The article states that the mother and child had been picked up shortly after crossing the US border illegally and were sent to be detained at an immigration detainment center in Berks County in Pennsylvania. Then, over the next 17 months an apparent legal battle ensued to determine whether or not these two would be granted asylum. The article and every other article based on this case mentions that the mother and son had been targeted by Honduran gangs after the mother had witnessed a murder according to NPR.
NPR, the Pennsylvania Gazette, Fox News online, and Politico all mention that the legal appeals on behalf of the mother had all been exhausted. What I feel is important is to note that the deportation of the two came as Senator Casey live tweeted his attempt to get Homeland Security, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and the POTUS himself Donald Trump to intervene on behalf of the young child and his mother. For as the two were being out on a plane to Honduras by Immigration Customs and Enforcement agents, direct or with layovers no one is sure, lawyers were advocating for the boy under the Special Immigrants Juvenile Status as outlined by US Customs and Immigration Services.
If you do not want to read the text at the site or at the American Immigration Council’s site, it boils down that the mother had run out of options, the boy had not. Yet they were still deported. As of right now I do not know their fate, I hope for the best. Why the article if it has been covered by all of these news outlets. To advocate for sensible immigration reform. Our lawmakers in Congress have kicked around Immigration Reform for decades. From the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 which retired the national origin quota system, to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act which increased the crack down on those who employ immigrants in the US unlawfully, to the immigration reform of the 1990’s which increased immigration ceilings and created new categories of immigrants. Most of this increased the difficulty of coming to the US to work if you are an unskilled laborer. Because those who come to work seasonally on farms are a threat to American Jobs.
As an American who was, at one point, a young teenager. I worked in a cannery as a teen. I worked along several Latino men and women. We all worked, yet there seems to be a lack of illegal immigrants in white collar positions (my personal observations). Many do work in the restaurant business and have contributed to communities in very positive ways as with the case of Roberto Beristain. All tend to have valuable contributions to the economy. Our fruit and vegetable businesses are able to keep cost low because of low-cost labor, immigrants (illegal and legal) like Mr. Beristain provide for us cultural delights that we all enjoy. (Your local, small business burrito shack/truck would not exist without said immigrants. And I DARE you to say that food is not delicious) They purchase American goods, create diverse communities which integrate good ideas and people into them, and participate in the corporate economy in ways we cannot even fully describe.
Yes there are criminal immigrants. Those who engage in illegal drug trafficking, human trafficking, and other types of criminal behaviors. Those do exist, I do not deny that. And they must be dealt with appropriately, I do not know how. But I feel that some sort of threshold has to be reached where we admit that we need the low-cost, unskilled (yet skilled [have you ever worked on a farm] in many ways) laborers for very specific reasons. We must advocate to our Senators and Representatives to produce legislation that recognizes this and allows for the legal transit of these workers to those who require their labor.
For as the Statue of Liberty so eloquently states:
“Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
So I ask you, no I beseech you, if the tale of a mother and 5 year old sent to the possibility of violence moves you. If it makes you wonder what does it take for a person to be accepted as an immigrant in need of shelter, if it makes you pause and think about the possibility of other deportations of similar people under this new presidency which seems to advocate increased action by our US ICE offices regardless of the situation or standing of said possible immigrants, or if you just sit and worry slightly at the plight of others and sympathize with those caught up in violent situations who have been made part of the huddled masses cast out of the nation which has offered up its shores before. Advocate for sensible immigration reform to your Senators and Representatives. Offer ideas and suggestions. Perhaps one of you will come up with the idea that in some way allows a 5 year old boy to continue to live in a place where he and his mother will be safe, safe from gangs who commit violent crimes against those who inadvertently witness their violent actions. Become involved, speak out, and resist the actions of our government which threatens to turn us into a nation of unfeeling, elitists who do not remember that all of us, except the member of Native American tribes, come from immigrants.
Please leave any comments or suggestions.