By, Marcy S. Levine-Acevedo, Esq.
Since the Trump Administration came into power in 2017, one of the country’s hot-button issues has been immigration. It amazes me that people in this country still do not understanding basic immigration law even though the media is talking about immigration issues 7 days a week. Maybe this is because the people at the top don’t understand elementary immigration law and processes, so how can we expect lay folk to know the intricacies.
One of the biggest complaints I’ve read online is “Why don’t these people become citizens?” or “Why don’t they come here legally?” Every time I read these complains I want to scream, “IF THEY COULD, THEY WOULD.”
American politicians come from a wide range of backgrounds, but it’s obvious very few of them have ever worked with immigration law. If they had, I think we would see how a much deeper understanding of U.S. immigration law and policy could result in policies and changes allowing for less illegal immigration and more people being able to gain lawful status.
Although there have been many aggressive changes to immigration law and policy under the current administration, the previous administration also took aggressive action on immigration policies, including deporting more people than any other president’s administration. The difference is that the media paid far less attention to the Obama Administration’s deportations, who’s focus was heavily on those who had committed crimes. President Obama was also far less vocal about immigration issues than the current president.
No matter what your opinion is about the immigration system, we must all remember that we are dealing with human beings, and not cattle. We need to focus more on the fact that human beings are coming to this country for a reason, and it’s inhumane to lock them in cages and have them sleep on hard cold concrete floors. It is prudent that Congress start looking at the heart of the issues driving people to abandon their countries, spend thousands of dollars on human smugglers, and risk their lives to cross the border. Simply trying to come up with quick and cheap ways to house these people while they await removal from the country or proceedings in immigration court is not going to stop the influx of people looking to enter the country.
Many politicians are so focused on the dealing with the “problem” at hand that they aren’t able to consider the real problems such as the persecution of indigenous peoples in the northern triangle, the women fleeing domestic violence who can’t get protection from the police, or the poor people facing extortion by the police backed gangs. Poverty, corruption, and a lack of resources has exasperated all of these issues in Central America, South America, and in many countries across the globe. A band aid will not fix these issues and will not change migration patterns. Looking at ways to address the reason for migration is the first step to improving the immigration situation.
Our current system is not designed to allow for lawful immigration for many of the people entering our country through the southern border. Those who do not have relatives who are citizens or lawful permanent residents, who don’t hold advanced degrees or have millions of dollars to invest, and who can’t prove they’ve suffered the nearly impossible standard required for asylum, may have no options available to them to get lawful status in this country. If they could come here legally, they would. If they could apply for citizenship, they would. Whether people are coming here because they are fleeing horrors or they just want a better life, Congress must work harder and smarter if they want to solve the influx of migrants. The images of children and parents being ripped apart is heart-wrenching but focusing solely on this is not going to help these people. They need aid in their countries and options available to them here in the U.S.
Our politicians are poorly educated on immigration law and really lack an understanding of the immigration crisis. The American people should put more pressure on their politicians to look at the roots of the issues, not just trying to put Band-Aids on. Putting people in cages and attempting mass deportations isn’t fixing the problem. Until something changes, nothing is going to change.
a note by the editors.
Marcy S. Levine-Acevedo, Esq. is the owner of Levine Law, LLC in New London, CT. She has been practicing law for four years and is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and earned her Juris Doctor from New England Law | Boston. Marcy practices immigration, criminal defense, and child protection law.