On Immigration Policy

Shane Shuma  ’22 , Guest Writer

 I am for a fair, just and equal immigration policy, which is why I think the U.S. government needs to be very careful when dealing with the current Honduran caravan and related crises. Currently there are 4,000 people in a caravan in Mexico hoping to seek refuge in the United States. The great controversy over the issue lies over how we as a nation choose to act, whether to let them in or keep them out. As a country founded upon the concept of refuge and liberty, it could be argued that we should accept every migrant or refugee who comes to our borders. Others would argue that you cannot have a nation without borders and the enforcement of immigration policy. I believe that a reserved solution needs to be enacted, one that gives the migrants a fair chance but also one that respects the many immigrants around the world who are currently waiting for the chance to become legal United States citizens.

President Trump has sent 5,200 troops to the U.S. border to prevent an illegal crossing. Many, including myself, wonder how this can possibly help, as they cannot kill or hurt the migrants but at the same time are tasked with the job of not letting them in. I would propose that the United States reaches out to Mexico and prepares refugee camps with food, water, clothing and other essentials and a processing center on the Mexican side of the border. There, each migrant would be allowed to file asylum paperwork and go through the legal process of vetting and evaluating the validity of the asylum claims. In order to meet the asylum criteria, the migrants must demonstrate that they are being persecuted or have a fear of being persecuted because of at least one of five protected characteristics: race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group, and that their government is either persecuting or their government is allowing others to commit such persecution. If migrants fit these criteria they should be allowed into the country, however if it is determined that they do not meet such standards and are categorized as different statuses, like an economic migrant, they should be sent back to their countries of origin with help from the United States. 

The caravan is just one piece of a much larger puzzle when it comes to undocumented migration. There are currently 11 million undocumented immigrants who have built up their lives in this country, but there is also risk with maintaining a relaxed border policy. 

My solution would be to slowly and systematically legalize current migrants under a strict but fair policy and to strengthen the southern border. I would recommend that the American government construct a wall on parts of the southern border and install technology that helps border patrol agents watch over large swaths of land with minimal resources. After the border is secured the government should then look towards legalizing the undocumented immigrants living in our country. There would be five stipulations for an undocumented immigrant to be legalized. First, every undocumented immigrant would have to identify themselves to the American government and be documented. Second, those 30 and older must provide proof of residency in the United States for at least six years. Third, they would have to pay into the American tax system and would be barred from claiming most government benefits for five years. Fourth, they would have to maintain a job or volunteer during that five-year period with few exceptions. Fifth, if an undocumented immigrant commits a felony during this period they will be automatically deported and sent back to their country of origin. By implementing these solutions, the American government could appease most citizens in this country, who believe in having borders but who also have sympathy for undocumented immigrants who have built their life in our country. 

The United States must deal with the caravan heading towards the southern border humanely and fairly and give each migrant a fair hearing. After this, President Trump and Congress should work on a bipartisan solution to solving our current immigration policy, hopefully considering proposals like mine and those made by those much more informed on the matter than me. Next the country should actually come together and have a more direct voice in shaping immigration policy and help the government see what is needed. Hopefully one day this great country, who has sent someone to the moon, can find a way to enact a fair, just and equal immigration policy.