Immigration system not helping immigrants

Kaitlin Clark, Entertainment Editor

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Our nation was built by immigrants, but say the word “immigration” in a crowded room, and I guarantee that there will be people who are passionate on both sides.

Following Donald Trump’s win in the 2016 presidential election, his rhetoric denouncing illegal immigration escalated. According to the Washington Post, Trump said in a series of Dec. 6 White House remarks, “[Democrats] want to have illegal immigrants pouring into our country, bringing with them crime, tremendous amounts of crime.”

While some immigrants may be trying to come into the country for negative reasons, the majority are simply trying to find a better life. Illegal immigration shouldn’t be seen as immigrants threatening America, but rather a wake-up call to the American immigration system. The immigration system must be repaired if America has any chance of moving forward.

Immigrants attempt to come to America for a variety of reasons, but it is often due to violence in their home nation. Take the caravans travelling through Mexico that approached the US-Mexico border for example. The group known as Pueblo Sin Fronteras organized a group of caravans to approach the border and turn themselves in on the week of Easter, hoping to be granted asylum in either country.

In part of an April 1 tweet, Trump said, “ Getting more dangerous. ‘Caravans’ coming.” This was seen as a direct attack against Pueblo Sin Fronteras.

In a phone interview with the New York Times, Mexico director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras Irineo Mujica explained their mission.

“We are not terrorists. We are not anarchists. We try to help people to know their rights, things that we as human being should be doing, trying to advocate for human, sensible solutions,” Mujica said.

Lawmakers need to look into the causes of people attempting to enter the country. One major reason that people enter illegally is the time it takes to become a legal citizen. Citizenship can take anywhere from a few months to several years, and for some immigrants, that uncertainty puts them in danger.

Other immigrants come into the country to flee violence. The Guardian reported on several people who had fled to the United States after they had family members attacked by gangs. This very thing happened to José Marvin Martínez, who, following the fatal shooting of his brother by possible gang members, came to the United States from Honduras. After a few months, he was deported. Four months after his deportation, he was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting. If the immigration process were more efficient, then perhaps the people who need protection the most would receive it in a more timely manner, decreasing the amount of people who feel like they have to immigrate illegally to stay alive.

Even after illegal immigrants are detained, the immigration courts that follow can be terrible. Often, immigrants do not have the money to hire an attorney and have to represent themselves, and cases can take as little as 15 minutes.

“I always say that in immigration courts we’re doing death-penalty cases in a traffic-court setting,” Dana L. Marks, former President of the National Association of Immigration Judges said in a 2010 interview with PBS NewsHour. Across the country, cases that will forever change peoples’ lives are handled in a matter of hours or minutes, leaving illegal immigrants who, in some cases, have spent their entire lives in the United States helpless. They are at the mercy of judges who can have vastly different conviction rates across the country. The lack of uniformity and fairness that plagues immigration courts can have terrible effects on illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigration has become one of the most debated topics of our time, but when it comes down to it, many of these people are trying to escape terrible conditions in their home countries. We need to encourage lawmakers to change the way that immigration and immigration courts are handled to be more timely and fair to immigrants. If we as a nation do this, then many people seeking to enter the United States will become legal citizens more willingly and can have the word “illegal” removed from their status. Immigrants have consistently helped the United States move forward, and if we can find ways to make hard-working immigrants legal citizens without taking months or years, then our country can progress more than ever before.

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