Recently, many tragic events have sparked controversy over allowing Syrian refugees into the United States of America. Those opposing the acceptance of these refugees claim to do so in the name of the safety of the American people. Those in favor of accepting these refugees defend their claims with ideas of morality and ethics.
What about the morality of denying legal status to the 11 million undocumented immigrants fleeing oppression and harassment who call the United States home? The people who are working members of society, who have children attending college and working toward degrees and those who are still trying to make a living off minimum wage, back-breaking jobs. Does their lack of a social security number exclude them from these moral values? It shouldn’t, but it does.
“The U.S. is a part of a program that helps resettle refugees. The United Nations has a refugee program and member nations help contribute to that process. As nation states, they of course can decide how many they want,” Jose Marichal, a California Lutheran University professor who has a doctorate in political science, said. “As a participant in that program, we already have an obligation to help refugees. But also in our own immigration law, we have a provision to protect those who are seeking political asylum for humanitarian purposes.”
Not to negate the suffering and tragic experiences of those fleeing from war torn nations, but refugee status is obtained by a limited amount of people when those in need of asylum are abundant. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, an individual seeking refugee must meet four qualifications. First be located outside of the U.S., Second, be of special humanitarian concern to the U.S., third, demonstrate fear of persecutions because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership to certain social groups and fourth not be firmly resettled in another country.
The problem with the wording of these requisites is that many undocumented immigrants could potentially fall under the humanitarian concern category. however, the clause refers to those individuals who fear political repression. Excessive drug trafficking, drug related violence, thousands of homicides and violence against women is present in the daily lives of many Mexicans and Central Americans. These threats, although terrifying and life-endangering, are not government caused and therefore do not permit these victims to request refugee status in the U.S.
“The violence has to be targeted to a person specifically, and that’s where things get complicated. Every case is different, and because of a law signed by President George W. Bush in 2008, children fall into a special class,” according to an article on cnn.com by Michael Martinez and Miguel Marquez.
Because a majority of these victims are innocent bystanders, they have no claim to asylum. Yes, they’re victims but they weren’t the intended targets and therefore have no justified need for refugee status.
Conservatives in this country claim to be completely opposed to immigration reform and therefore use their power and influence to refuse a lifeline to a group of people only looking to better themselves. The claim contradicts their actions as they do very little to prosecute those who encourage illegal immigration.
“The hypocrisy of the law is that if the right was really serious about this, then they would go after employers. If you really wanted to put an end to it, then you would prosecute the employers who are hiring undocumented immigrants. They don’t really want to make that constituency angry, so they don’t want to enforce e-verify, “ Marichal said. “It’s convenient. You have a labor pool that comes here and does work for low-money. It has very limited legal labor rights, so it works for employers. Everyone economically seems to be happy with it.”
The solution is obvious. Yes, let’s accept more refugees, but let’s also prioritize the reparation of the broken immigration system in the country. Let’s stop looking for loopholes in an exclusive law and let’s start changing the law to match the circumstances of the 11 million people working hard to make a foreign nation their home.
Let’s stop forcing them to hide in the shadows and fear ascending through the ranks in case their lack of legal status becomes apparent. Let’s compensate these workers who in one way or another are helping the economy of this country. Let’s challenge the idea that the American dream is unobtainable and instead make it so this country is once again seen as the land of opportunity.
Published December 9th, 2015