[November 25, 2017]
The current rhetoric against allowing immigration into the United States from our southern border cites the negative attributes of undocumented (and therefore, illegal) immigrants. How those conclusions were reached when first pronounced in 2015 should have been called into question. But the immediate (and ongoing) reaction was polar. They were either completely accepted as near gospel or they caused so much outrage and revulsion that there was a major distraction and omission. Few voices were raised that asked, “Where did you get the statistics to support that?”
Quite interestingly, a study was conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center that resulted in a report called “Survey of Mexican Migrants, Part Three: The Economic Transition to America.” It was compiled during July 2004 to January 2005 by soliciting responses from a total of 4,836 individual at Mexican consulates in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Raleigh, and Fresno. The respondents were applying for an identity card and it is believed most lacked authorization to work in the United States. (There are presently 51 Mexican Consulates in the entire United States.)
In the original attack on Hispanic migrants, one of the assertions was “. . . they’re taking our jobs, . . .” According to the report, “The vast majority of undocumented migrants from Mexico were gainfully employed before they left for the United States. Thus, failure to find work at home does not seem to be the primary reason that the estimated 6.3 million undocumented migrants from Mexico have come to the U.S.” If this was the case, we need to ascertain the real reason for seeking employment in the United States. Perhaps we have something that is not available or is in small quantity in Mexico.
At the time of the study, migrants were concentrated in a handful of industries, those being agriculture, hospitality, construction, and manufacturing. However, the characteristics of the migrants and the nature of the demand for them began to change. Two such changes that were noted were:
“The more recently arrived and younger migrants from Mexico are better educated than their predecessors, less likely to be farm workers, and more likely to have a background in other industries, such as commerce and sales.
“Also, they increasingly come from a greater variety of regions in Mexico and make homes in new Mexican-migrant settlement areas, such as New York and Raleigh, . . .”
Suffice it to say, there will be an argument about these migrant settlement areas. Undoubtedly the argument will be that the population is deteriorating the areas and causing blight. However, given the findings of the Pew report, those types of conditions are highly unlikely for people who see themselves as upwardly mobile.
And Then There Are the Dreamers
Earlier this year an announcement was made with regard to the requirements for allowing immigrants into the United States. They now must pass incredibly stringent requirements with regard to language proficiency, amount of education already attained, and more. We need to ask ourselves whether we would be accepted into another country if it held similar immigration standards. These conditions are to be applied to all immigrants.
Just an aside: There were no exceptions mentioned when it came to considering those who seek asylum, whether from Mexico or any other country.
Putting these issues aside, let us consider the status of the Dreamers. They are young Mexicans who were brought to the United States as infants or were born here. They are not criminals nor any of the other adjectives applied in broad brush strokes to Mexicans. They are undocumented. They are among those covered by DACA. They are focused on being the best of breed and proving themselves to be so in many respects. They are not taking jobs from anyone. They are competing for existing jobs and striving to prove themselves worthy of a position in the company where they desire to work. But their tenure is challenged by revisions to the immigration policies of the United States and suspension of DACA.
There was mixed reaction to DACA (formally, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) when it was implemented in 2012. It should be noted that it was not an act but a program. It was implemented through an announcement, not made law by Presidential Executive Order. According to Wikipedia, a group of states sued to enjoin the implementation of DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans). Legal opinions regarding DACA are divided. Truthfully, I was among those opposed to it for many reasons, principally because of the drain on American resources and what appeared to be a scheme being used to make illegal entry acceptable for reasons of compassion (don’t harm innocent small children and infants). Having read the 2006 articles that document the positive impact of the population, my opinion is changed.
The challenging situation is the theory that fueled introduction of the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE) as it modifies the previous points-based system for legal residency as it accords a higher number of points “to people who are highly skilled.” Regarding the immigration system prior to August 2, 2017, Senator Cotton (co-author of the RAISE Act) said “For some people, they may think that’s a symbol of America’s virtue and generosity. I think it’s a symbol we’re not committed to working-class Americans. We need to change that.”.
The status of DACA, however, is that it was suspended. A Memorandum on Rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was issued in September 2017 by the Department of Homeland Security. Both DAPA and DACA will be wound down, according to the Memorandum. Adjudication (review) of applications will be done on a case-by-case basis. No new requests and applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed after September 5, 2017 will be rejected.
The Generalizations cf. Realities
Generalizations tend to get us into trouble when we use them to speak of large groups and assign attributes to them. Rhetoric that foments suspicion, divisiveness, and hate does nothing for creating a healthy environment for mutual support and growth.
It would be prudent to consider those who comprise the population of this country as people who have valuable skills and talents that can be used for improvement. The 2005 statistics show that just the narrow segment of Mexican immigrants are a desirable group of people who can and already are involved in making this an even better country. That’s just one segment. There are many others that offer similar benefits.
It may not have been part of the original installation but it still [Statute of Liberty poem] makes a statement about what our land represents to those who choose to come here as well as what the represent in terms of seeking renewed opportunities they’re willing to strive to earn.
- Survey of Mexican Migrants, Part Three: The Economic Transition to Amierica, Rakesh Kochhar, Pew Hispanic Center (December 6, 2005)
- Surprising Results in Migrant Study, Hispanic Business (January/February 2006) (related content: Living in America: Challenges Facing New Immigrants and Refugees, Lake Snell Perry Mermin/Decision Research, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (August 2006)
- Surprising Results of FSM Survey on migrants in U.S., Bill Jaynes, The Kaselehlie Press (October 11, 2012)
- Donald Trump’s false comments connecting Mexican immigrants and Crime, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post (July 8, 2015)
- Trump: Mexico Not Sending Us Their Best; Criminals, Drug Dealers and Rapists Are Crossing Border, Ian Schwartz, Real Clear Politics (June 16, 2015)
- Fact-Check: Donald Trump Did Not Call All Mexicans ‘Rapists, Criminals, Katie McHugh, Breitbart (October 4, 2016)
- Trends in Migration to the U.S., Philip Martin, Population Reference Bureau (May 2014)
- Refugees and Asylees in the United States, Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova (June 7, 2017)
- Mexican Consulates in the United States, Mexonline.com
- DACA Implementation: Implications and Opportunities for Education Founders (PDF), Walter Barrientos, Special Projects Manager, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) (20–)
- DACA Implementation: Implications and Opportunities for Education Founders, GCIR (July 16, 2013, Revised August 30, 2013)
- Local Insights from DACA for Implementing Future Programs for Unauthorized Immigrants (PDF), Audrey Singer, Nicole Prchal, and Jill H. Wilson, Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings Institution (June 2015)
- Memorandum on Rescission of DACA, Elaine C. Duke, Acting Secretary, Homeland Security (September 5, 2017)
- State Department Tightens Rules for Visas to U.S., Gardiner Harris, New York Times (Sep 18, 2017)
- How the United States Immigration System Works (Fact Sheet), American Immigration Council
- Requirements for Applying for Citizenship in the United States, FindLaw, Immigration Law
- S. Immigration Guide – U.S. Visas and U.S. Immigration, American Immigration Center
- Trump says he wants immigrants ‘who speak English’ and won’t ‘collect welfare’, Veronica Stracquafursi with Ben Siegel, Jordyn Phelps, and Cecilia Vega, ABC News, (Aug 2, 2017)
- Asylum, USCIS (May 12, 2017)
- Refugees & Asylum, USCIS (Nov 12, 2015)
- Questions and Answer: Asylum Eligibility and Applications, USCIS (Sep 21, 2017)
- Asylum Seekers & Refugees, National Immigrant Justice Center
- Political asylum in USA, immihelp
- Will Trump’s new rules make it harder to get asylum in the U.S.? That will vary from one judge to the next, Richard Vengroff, Washington Post (Jun 27, 2017)