Recently, my newsfeed has been washed with the immigration crisis going on in South and Central America that has been labeled a caravan. The event consists of a new wave of migrants moving towards the US, seeking asylum. I was dismayed to see the reaction from the United States, which involved the movement of military troops down south, and the unnecessary use of tear gas to repel the caravan, desperate asylum seekers, from our borders. Violence at the border has been increasing over the years. However, this is not violence committed by immigrants, rather by the United States. To understand immigration more clearly, it is important to understand the misconceptions surrounding illegal immigrants, and how this poses a danger to any chance of immigration reform.
First and foremost, our president has framed immigrants as synonymous with criminals, yet there is no statistic that validates that the majority of immigrants are criminals. It is quite simply a scare tactic so that real issues on immigration reform are ignored and human rights are violated in the process. Immigrants being viewed as criminals leads to unjust treatment that has never been even remotely “proven” to be justified in the case of jailed inmates in America. Certainly, it is necessary to recognize the fact that gangs such MS-13, composed of international Latino members, are present in large cities such as Los Angeles and Houston, but concluding that one data point speaks to all future instances is a fallacy.
Put simply, the current framing of the caravan is an extrapolation fallacy 101; when the action of estimating or concluding something extreme by assuming that a current method will remain applicable. Assuming that political refugees escaping violent and desolate realities in their home countries are all criminals and “rapists” is outrageous. Many, if not most, are families with young children. There has yet to be evidence to support the claim that any preexisting gang members are part of the group attempting to enter at the border. In fact, the vast amount of recruitment to gangs such as MS-13 come from people inside our borders. To continue with the erroneous statement that gang members are flooding the border creates a mental block for the public that ignores all logic and reason, and causes mass fear to prevent any confrontation in aiding immigrants seeking asylum.
Another misconception with current immigration that leads to mounting frustrations is the belief that illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes. According to the Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy, “Undocumented immigrants contribute significantly to state and local taxes, collectively paying an estimated $11.74 billion a year.” This is a substantial amount, shattering the arguable notion that illegal immigrants do not pay taxes and thus don’t contribute to our economy. This claim is used in an attempt to invalidate illegal immigrants. This claim is meant to inflame the masses to give the appearance that illegal immigrants are “lazy and sap off of the benefits system in America.”
Another issue with the propaganda surrounding the caravan of immigrants is the loophole found in the Geneva protocols, that is unethically unsound. The Geneva protocols are a series of international statutes that dictate warfare and weaponry used in warfare. The use of poisonous gases in international conflicts is illegal, however, it is not illegal in the use of riot control by local police. The loophole that has labeled asylum seekers as the same threat level as riots are unethical. It was used against innocent women and children and destroyed families. Tear gas is a dangerous compound that can lead to serious injury and is considered a last resort in almost all cases. However, by labeling the use of tear gas as a human rights issue, a current buzzword in politics, it has to lead to political polarization and not an obvious wrong needing to be corrected. The fact remains that while the use of such methods is deplorable, it is well within the rights of the United States as a sovereign nation to defend its borders and prevent illegal immigration and is a big concern of many citizens.
This leads for the immediate and serious consideration for immigration reconstruction. There needs to be an overhaul, as immigrants continue to pool into the country. There needs to be a considerable increase in judges that sit in immigration courts to handle the workload of looking through immigrants’ applications. This treatable effect has allowed for the continued delay in applications for work visas, residency, preventing help to those who need it. The very foundation of the United States is built off of immigrants, yet we are culturing a fear of letting those that need our freedom and values to have access. From the first pilgrims who colonized in the United States, to the Irish, Chinese, German and multiple other cultures that have entered throughout the years, the very concept of America has run on immigrants. To do nothing about the current injustices that have been plaguing our borders for years goes against the values of the United States and violates countless human rights in which we have been looking the other way. We were found on beliefs that are not being upheld for the sake of the privileged that are benefiting within our borders.