Redressing the Shame of U.S. Immigration Laws and Enforcement Policies
Forthcoming book chapter in Hidden Lives and Human Rights in America: Understanding the Controversies and Tragedies of Undocumented Immigration, Lois Lorentzen, Ed. (Praeger 2014)
32 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2014 Last revised: 28 May 2014
Date Written: 2014
In this chapter, I provide a focused view of certain examples of U.S. immigration laws and enforcement policies that have gone too far. I provide a fuller picture of employer sanctions enforcement and Operation Gatekeeper, along with harsh deportation policies that are enforced in the name of protecting our borders and ourselves from a so-called invasion of immigrants. I explain how the lack of sufficient visas and U.S. trade policies have exacerbated the alleged “illegal immigration” problem. And I discuss how a system based on ethical values is needed to remedy the evils of current U.S. immigration policies.
The experiment that we call America is a test of our character and our willingness to believe that we can have a strong country that is caring and diverse. Showing compassion and fairness in our immigration policies is not a sign of weakness. Rather, those traits demonstrate confidence in a rule of law and system of government that metes out punishment when necessary, but understands that regulating the lives of those who seek to live within our borders must be done with the utmost compassion, dignity, and understanding. As in previous generations, there is much to admire about individuals who come to our shores seeking freedom and a better life. Whether they are fleeing persecution or entering to seek work in order to better their lives, the newcomers of today are not much different from those of the past. Once here, welcoming newcomers and understanding the challenges that they will be facing are imperative. As they become part of our neighborhoods and communities, some may make mistakes, but we would do well to remember that supporting rehabilitation, giving a second chance, and providing ways for individuals to mature are essential elements of a civil society. Although these forgiving traits may immediately benefit the individual, in the end, we all benefit. When an individual finally turns the corner and becomes a contributing member, the entire community benefits socially, emotionally, and economically.
Keywords: United States, Immigration, enforcement, Operation Gatekeeper, deportation
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