With an undocumented immigrant population approaching 12 million, immigration policy has been front and center stage in the past decade of American politics. For the election in November the question of immigration policy is as
important as ever, but the issue, policies and feelings are complex.
What makes the newest wave of immigration to this country more difficult than the past is that gaining entrance to this country has become increasingly more difficult, while the desire for the American Dream has remained the same. This disproportion has led to an all-time high of undocumented immigrants. As times have changed from the height of European immigration in the Industrial Revolution to the mostly Latin American immigration of today, the policies have changed as well.
In today’s age, national security is an increasingly important issue, but we must also be aware of human rights of those trying to pursue the timeless American Dream. Many immigrants cannot even afford the fee for a visa, let alone the fee to apply for citizenship down the road. Those who try to immigrate are “lucky to cross the border, and are more lucky just to survive.
This city relies on its hard working immigrants who risk everything just for a job in the states. A recurring theme throughout immigration conversation is survival. The immigrants of today are no different than those of the past. They want to make an honest living and to escape the turmoil of corruption. Many immigrants are well informed of American policy, especially the DREAM act, and just want to live a better life in America than they had in their home country.
For those two don’t know, the DREAM act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is a bipartisan piece of legislation first introduced in 2001, but has yet to pass in its entirety. The bill would grant permanent residency to minors who where brought here by their parents and have completed high school. For undocumented youths who have spent the majority of their life in this country at no fault of their own, this is what they deserve. The opposition, however, considers a measure such as this to be a “magnet” for illegal immigration.
There is no easy solution to the issue of immigration, but securing the human rights of those brought here at no fault of their own is certainly the first step. This is why President Obama recently issued an executive order reminiscent of the original DREAM act, called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). In similar suit, this measure allows immigrants to apply for work visas if they entered the country as minors. Immigration is not going to end and ultimately, we are products of immigrants so we should treat all with respect.
The President, while striving to help immigrants, has not had enough time to do all that he promised but has gone much further than the Republican party. Strict deportation measures put forth by Republican state legislatures in several states are of much concern to immigrants. American citizens are being deported because they look Hispanic, which is both racist and disheartening. Immigrants work hard for this country and need to be returned with respect and an easier way to citizenship and visas.
Emily Benko is a senior and the events coordinator for College Democrats.