Kamala Harris on immigration: same wine, new bottle

The Biden administration took the move back cruel policies of the Trump era, accelerate the treatment of migrants and make the material conditions of the undocumented population more bearable. Nonetheless, the overwhelming approach presented by the White House still supports law and order deterrence: proposed budget for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) increased for FY2022 and a strategy to discourage immigration at source is continued.

“Don’t come,” Vice-President Kamala Harris warned migrants in Guatemala in early June. Harris’ statement strangely recalls the “” of the previous administrationStay in mexicoThe rhetoric of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). In accordance with MPP policy, asylum seekers arriving at the southern border could be sent home to await their turn in immigration courts.

Recycling of this approach is often observed, but deterrence has ultimately proven to be ineffective time and time again.

In April 2017, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) adopted a pilot program authorizing the separation of families trying to cross the southern border. The then White House chief of staff John Kelly, stated that this change was considered to “deter further movement along this terribly dangerous network”. Contrary to the intentions of the administration, there was a increase in the number of families arrested by the authorities in the first months of this program.

If these policies were aimed at discouraging migration, the numbers tell a different story. Surprisingly, CBP reported an increase in meetings from 2016 to 2018 during the Trump term. Even considering the possibility that more aggressive tactics were used to apprehend migrants, it is telling to see the number of encounters doubled from 526,901 to 1,148,024 during the transition and the first two years of the Trump administration. .

In other words, regardless of the use of MPPs and strict protocols by the Trump administration, the fortification of the southern border did not deter migrants from attempting the passage: it simply made the journey more dangerous.

However, the policy of deterrence is not exclusive to physical passage. Since migrants are able to withstand the journey, administrations have resorted to more severe protection of refugee status. During the Trump presidency, quotas for asylum seekers were lowered, despite more migrants defensive asylum claim. Therefore, as the number of applicants increased, the number of refugees admitted only decreased.

Of course, this does not mean that a policy of dissuasion is responsible for promoting the crossing of borders. On the contrary, these statistics show that even the strictest and most inhumane treatment has failed to mitigate illegal immigration. The push and pull factors of migration outweigh the damage caused by the policy of deterrence.

Therefore, we must view the border crisis from a different frame of reference if we recognize the current status quo as unacceptable. The United States itself is unmistakably and naturally an extremely strong and steadfast country. attraction factor. The United States should reform the current immigration system to take this into account by providing more accessible pathways to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.

Legalization is by no means “radical”. We have already done this through the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in 1986, signed by President Ronald Reagan. The IRCA, through a general legalization program, gave undocumented immigrants residing in the United States between 1982 and 1986 a route to lawful permanent residence. 2.7 million people have obtained LPR status, 1.6 million of which were originally undocumented.

In the 21st century, the narrative guiding immigration policy and how American society views migrants has been incredibly divided. Many American officials, including President Donald Trump and other Republicans who ran in the 2016 primary campaigned on the premise that all undocumented migrants should be deported.

Ironically, keeping their election promises would actually hurt the economy. By swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction, the deportation of all undocumented It would cost between $ 400 billion and $ 600 billion to facilitate, reduce the real gross domestic product by $ 1 trillion and cause a decline in the workforce due to a shortage of workers.

Undocumented migrants are already contributing 8% of their income, more than $ 11 billion in total, to state and local taxes per year, according to a 2017 study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. If they get legal status as part of an immigration reform plan, they could contribute up to $ 13.1 billion in total, with states like Texas, California and Georgia seeing increases over $ 100 million.

Long-term, immigrants stimulate economy and do not cause salary stagnation, and they do steal jobs. The repeated claim that undocumented migrants are criminals is also fictitious, given their conviction rate is 45% lower than Americans born in the country.

So the question remains: why is America so reluctant to give those who desperately want to be Americans an easier way to do so? Why is deterrence our accepted default? The answer illuminates a clear and unspoken definition of who is considered acceptable in America.

It’s a rather uncomfortable reality, but an inevitable lived experience for many immigrants and children of immigrants to the United States, including Vice President Harris. The Biden administration needs to overhaul the U.S. immigration system to recognize this intrinsic perception that affects all immigrants, rather than simply bottling up the broken status quo.

Anju Felix is ​​a junior from Port Murray, NJ, studying neuroscience, political science, and the harp. She is the opinion writer for The News-Letter.


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