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The question of whether it is ethical to deport illegal immigrants has been asked for decades. On one hand, they did come here illegally. On the other, they are humans looking for safety. Is it so wrong that they wanted to come to the United States in order to live a safer, more fruitful life? They face their own individual struggles of being an illegal immigrant in the sense of attempting to find employment, housing, and hiding from government officials. The United States government has forced immigrants to stay silent due to their fear of deportation, losing their families, and mistreatment. Is the way the United States treats illegal immigrants ethical and just?
It is standard (or seems to be) for immigrants who are living in America illegally to live their lives more or less in hiding. They fear those around them will discover that they are not legal citizens, or that they will be questioned solely on the way they are perceived. According to the Washington Post, “The Trump administration has argued that its immigration policies are driven by national security concerns and an effort to preserve jobs for Americans” (Hauslohner & Ba Tran, 2018). If the main reason for deportation is to “preserve jobs for Americans”, there must be another, more humane, way to approach this situation.
Consequently, since the senate bill 4 has passed in Texas, it allows police officers to demand proof of citizenship from anyone they choose. This not only brings up the topic of discrimination, but the reasoning behind why illegal immigrants tend to remain as such. If you are living in constant fear of being discovered and deported, why would you make the efforts to become a legal citizen when it is not guaranteed and can take years to go into effect? An article in The New Yorker stated, in regard to America’s view on illegal immigrants,
They have been paying taxes: almost all immigrants, including those who are in the country illegally, pay taxes. People who are applying for naturalization have, in other words, been contributing their fair share to the system… We believe, or we used to believe, that providing for the basic needs of all members of society benefits all of us. (Gessen, 2018)
Moreover, the belief that every person should be treated equally has not, and continues to not be, a priority of the United States government. Morally, it should be standard for all those living in America to have access to the things that they need to survive without fear.
America’s Voice submitted an article titled “Immigration 101: Why Can’t Immigrants Just “Get Legal”, “Get in Line” and Get Their Papers?”. This article exposes the trials and tribulations that come with the process, or lack thereof, of becoming a legal American citizen. In regard to requesting citizenship through seeking asylum, America’s Voice states,
This is also a very difficult path to entry — untold numbers of immigrants have been deported because they came to the US seeking asylum and had their cases denied, in many cases because it is almost impossible to prove that one’s life is in direct danger. Furthermore, the Trump Administration is now reportedly turning away asylum applicants at the border, in violation of international law. (America’s Voice, 2017)
Immigrants come to the United States due to the fact that their lives are in immediate danger, and the United States sends them right back to that hostile situation. It is obvious that the legal immigration process is extremely difficult and drawn out. Why are we as a country, making it so difficult for others to gain access? America’s Voice states, “According to the American Immigration Council, the unmarried children of US citizens must wait more than 5 years to be able to come to the US, while siblings of US citizens must wait more than ten years” (America’s Voice, 2017). America’s laws placed on immigrants tear apart families and keep them apart for years and in lots of cases, forever.
In his speech on immigration, Barack Obama stated,
All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibility of living in America. And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows or risk their families being torn apart. (Powers, 2018)
Later, Obama states, “Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws… Let’s be honest, tracking down, rounding up and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic, anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you. It’s not who we are as Americans” (Powers, 2018). The idea of trying to rid the US of all illegal immigrants is neither practical nor humane. The tearing apart of families who are just trying to build a better life for themselves is grossly immoral.
Former first lady Laura Bush visited a holding facility for illegal immigrants being deported. She and a congressman who accompanied her made the account, “Former First Lady Laura Bush has compared it to the internment camps used for Japanese-Americans during World War Two. A Democratic congressman who visited the site said it was “nothing short of a prison” (BBC, 2018). This leaves no room for argument when it comes to morality. The United States is forcing people into cages for weeks on end with little food and water. They are separated from their families and given to resources to help themselves. The Associated Press reported that “One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips [crisps] and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets” (BBC, 2018).
The spiral of silence theory makes the claim that “people constantly observe other people’s behavior in order to find out which opinions and behaviors are met with approval or rejection in the public sphere” (Neumann, 2004). It is increasingly difficult to defend a theory that most people do not own a personal opinion on. The view of illegal immigration and deportation shifts depending on the opinion of those in power. It is also difficult to imagine a United States in which treats all humans with equality and dignity. This being said, it is clear that the way the United States treats immigrants is not acceptable and ethically imbalanced.
United States government officials, and those who agree with them, see our Nations tactic for immigration control as adequate. Regarding their goal, yes, they are achieving what they have set out to do. However, this does not make it morally correct or ethical. Purposefully putting human beings in hostile situations solely because they broke our law is not the correct way to handle a situation. The legal immigration process in itself is very difficult and can take years. It is not surprising that people would come here illegally solely because they are scared that they would not be approved for legal citizenship. All humans deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of whether one agrees with their actions or lifestyle.
- Americas Voice. (2018, August 13). Immigration 101: Why Can’t Immigrants Just “Get Legal”, “Get in Line” and Get Their Papers? Retrieved from https://americasvoice.org/blog/immigration-101-why-immigrants-cant-just-get-legal/
- Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann & Thomas Petersen: The Spiral of Silence and the Social Nature of Man. In: L.L. Kaid (Hrsg.): Handbook of Political Communication (pp. 339-356). Lawrence. Erlbaum, London 2004.
- Gessen, M. (2018, August 10). Trump’s New War on Immigrants. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/trumps-new-war-on-immigrants
- Hauslohner, A., & Ba Tran, A. (2018, July 02). How Trump is changing the face of legal immigration. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/how-trump-is-changing-the-face-of-legal-immigration/2018/07/02/477c78b2-65da-11e8-99d2-0d678ec08c2f_story.html?utm_term=.3679b65e7a8b
- Powers, J., & IVN. (2018, July 03). Here are the Positions of Recent Presidents on Immigration. Retrieved from https://ivn.us/2018/07/03/whats-changed-here-are-the-positions-of-recent-presidents-on-immigration/
- The “Spiral of Silence” Theory. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://noelle-neumann.de/scientific-work/spiral-of-silence/
- Trump migrant separation policy: Children ‘in cages’ in Texas. (2018, June 18). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44518942
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