Immigration problems will not be solved with a wall

By | February 11, 2019 8:26 am

Democratic Dialog – By Debra Wines

America has a long history of immigration.  Every one of us, except Native Americans, can trace our roots back to an immigrant who either voluntarily came to America or was enslaved and brought here.  Except for the slaves, our ancestors were all seeking a chance at a better life.  An influx of Irish immigrants came to America to escape the British rule and famine. A large majority of Italian immigrants left Italy early in the 1900s to escape the rise of Benito Mussolini.  Cubans sought refuge from Fidel Castro.  Today, we have people from Latin American countries who are also seeking refuge from chaos, hunger, and corrupt governments.  This goes for people from the Middle East and Africa.

We need to take a look at the history of those countries, and, in a great many cases, we must recognize that our own American government bears some responsibility for what has happened in those countries.  Europe, and especially Great Britain, should also accept its portion of responsibility.  When European were roaming the seas in search of more riches, they didn’t ask nicely if they could take everything these countries had.  They invaded, took over the governments, and, in some circumstances, tried to co-exist with the leaders of those people.  Instead of assimilating with the cultures and the people of those countries, Europeans saw those people as less intelligent and certainly uncivilized, according to white European social norms.  They were successful in diminishing the native population, their way of life, their system of government, their culture, and their religious beliefs.

Since World War II, some 70 million people have been seeking jobs, refuge from corrupt and deadly governments, fleeing environmental disasters and some kind of order that they no longer have in their homeland. There has also been a shift from empire building to struggling independent states.  America was lending a helping hand to many of those independent states with foreign aid and backing leaders they thought they could control. When controlling some leaders backfired and people were revolting, America stepped in again and sometimes played both sides against the middle, which added more instability for the people in those countries.  We did this for various reasons, but a majority of the reasons dealt with large corporations who had invested in those countries for oil and several other commodities, along with cheap labor.

Immigration from non-English speaking countries was increasing, and illegal immigration was becoming a real problem.  Mexico, Central American, and South America were not reaping the rewards of American corporations’ benevolence.  Instead, the majority of people were suffering and looking for a way out.  One of the ways out of this chaos for many was Americans’ desire for cheap illegal drugs. Countries that once had been idyllic, beautiful, and prosperous were failing because of corruption caused by drugs. When people no longer felt safe traveling to those countries, tourism faltered, along with their economies.  People who wanted to escape could only see they had to find a way to America and seek refuge.

For years, we had migrant workers who traveled America working in our fields, orchards, and vineyards that supplied our food needs.  It was not an easy life, but it was better than what they had in their home countries, and many stayed to make a better life for their families.  Some did it legally, others did not.  Even President Ronald Reagan recognized there had to be a path to legal citizenship made for those who had lived and worked in America for years.  He knew that deporting millions of hardworking people who had children born in the country and contributed to society, was going to be a difficult task at best.  Congress has been working, intermittently, trying to come up with solutions to address the overwhelming number of issues.  In the meantime, illegal immigrants are not just coming to our country from our border in Mexico.  Many have come to our country on student, tourist, and work visas and have remained in the country.

Donald Trump’s only solution to this problem is to build a wall across the entire Mexican border. To deter families from coming across the border, Jeff Sessions and others in Trump’s administration determined a good way to do that was to take the children from their parents and put them in facilities that are not equipped to take care of those children properly.  Even though a court has ordered the government to return those children to their parents, it seems whoever is running that particular “program” has had to admit they can’t do it because some of the parents have been deported, and they don’t know where the parents are now.  They also had to admit they can’t locate many of the children that were in their care.  This didn’t happen to just the people who were “sneaking” across the border.  This happened to people who were coming through ports of entry seeking asylum for themselves and their children.  They were doing what they thought was the right and proper way to seek refuge in America.  They were punished for that in the worst way possible by having their children taken from them.

The $5.7 billion that Donald Trump is demanding for his wall is more of a down payment on his wall, barrier, or whatever he is currently calling it.  Reports from various government agencies are that Mr. Trump’s “border” will costs more like $20 billion to $50 billion. America has done many things in the last 50 or 60 years to cause the unrest and chaos in these countries.  Perhaps it would be wise and financially more expedient if we figured out a way to use that money to repair the damage our government and corporations have caused so these people could go home and have a chance at a better life.  Instead of trying to scare Americans by demonizing those people, Mr. Trump and Congress should be seeking real solutions to their problems.

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