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The Need for Reform

Immigration in the United States

Autor(en): Maria Cordes am Dienstag, 14. August 2018
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Quelle: Shutterstock

Border

Immigration policies in the U.S. are excessively costly and unfair to those who don’t have the means to provide for themselves. 

Donald Trump’s campaign for the U.S. Presidency focused on several keynote themes, but one stance in particular that drew the most attention from voters and foreign media alike was his notorious “Build that wall” sentiment. His solution to “Making America Great Again” started with increased security on our nation's border with Mexico. Trump’s price tag on his beloved wall was initially $8 billion, but Senate committees and engineering experts alike guess that when all said and done it could end up costing the U.S. taxpayers anywhere from $30 billion to $50 billion. All of this work even though immigration to the U.S. has declined in the past three years and the majority of undocumented immigrants come from Central American or Asian countries, not Mexico.

Trying to Fix the Wrong Problems

Trump and his cabinet are focused on keeping people out instead of providing them with a simple and efficient plan to become or remain a legal resident. Immigration courts in the U.S. are extremely costly and the wait times are unfathomable. In populated cities with large immigrant populations like San Francisco or Chicago, you may have to wait up to five years for a court hearing. And even if you do manage to stay in the country long enough after your visa has expired, you have to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to hire immigration lawyers. If you cannot afford legal help, in many cases it is not provided for you; you have to defend yourself.  That includes children as well. There have been documented instances of children as young as three or four years old having to defend themselves in a court of law. But according to a Chief U.S. Immigration Judge, ““I’ve taught immigration law literally to 3 year olds and 4 year olds. It takes a lot of time... It’s not the most efficient, but it can be done.”

Misconceptions of Immigration

While illegal border crossings are something the Trump administration has capitalized off of throughout their campaign, the number of undocumented immigrants is mostly due to people who are entering the country legally with a valid visa and overstaying their period of admission.  A report from the Center of Migration Studies found that two-thirds of the undocumented immigrant population is due to overstayed visas, and have been higher than the number of illegal entries since 2007. In addition to this, since the documentation system is such a backed-up and expensive process, most visa overstays occur from a lack of time or resources.  As aforementioned, another common misconception and popular target for politicians is that a majority of undocumented immigrants are Mexicans, when in actuality, most immigrants are coming from Central or South American countries to seek refuge from the political climate. Ignorance and misconceptions on the subject of immigration has made this subject highly politicized and divisive; while some call for reform, others call for deportation and border security.

Declining Deportations, Additional Arrests

Although the number of deportations has technically gone down since the mass deportations under the Obama administration, the number of deportations this past year was higher when looking at the deportation of immigrants who had already settled in the U.S., rather than deportations that occur at the border.  While deportations are seemingly down, the number of immigration arrests from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, has gone up by 42% since President Trump has taken office. In a recent story, two government agencies coordinated meetings with undocumented immigrants who were seeking legal residency, not in attempts to help them with this complicated process, but for the purpose of arresting and in some cases deporting them.  This story accompanies many other reports of ICE raids and he deplorable conditions and treatment of people in immigration detention centers.
While most Americans can agree that the immigration system needs reform, the spread of misinformation or lack of knowledge does not help when trying to find a solution. Hopefully future policies focus more on assimilating those from other nations instead of excluding them. 

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