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Trump's Immigration Policy: a Rejection of Humanity

Trump's Immigration Policy: a Rejection of Humanity

If you are in favor of all the “angry and insular” (to quote Slate) moves this new President has made and is making,  in order to bring America back to what I am calling the Dark Ages, I challenge you to check your privilege.  If you are in favor of building a wall to “keep out the illegals,” I challenge you to check your meaning of poverty and despair with what is really happening in the world around you. If you are one of the millions of immigrants who came here legally and are now fighting to build this wall and deport all the “illegals” because, “why couldn’t they come legally like I did?” I challenge you to check your privilege and your luck.

El Salvador's civil war (1981). 

I was lucky. I was lucky to have been born to a diplomatic father who made it possible for my mother and I to obtain our green cards quicker than most. My privilege in having been able to gain residency status has NEVER shadowed my ability to see the suffering in the world around me and the desperate acts ANYONE would carry out in order to provide for their family and for themselves. My parents made sure of that. They made sure that I was always exposed to the best and the worst of the world.

Repeat after me: NO ONE WANTS TO COME HERE (or anywhere) ILLEGALLY. Get that notion out of your head, now.

No one wants to travel in inhumane conditions, putting themselves at risk of violence, rape, trafficking, and slavery, just to get into a foreign land with an unknown language where they know they are not wanted. No one wants to live in small housing, with quarters so cramped that people must sleep multiple families to a room. No one wants to work jobs that pay them poorly, that exploit them, that cause them harm.

No one wants to live their life in fear of being deported. No child wants to live with the fear of coming home to an empty house because their parents have been taken. No parent wants to leave their child in a strange land without their protection and support.

No. One. Wants. This.

Then, why do they do it? Think about it. Why would anyone risk everything they have and give their life savings to traffickers/coyotes/gangs/exploiters in order to be able to come to the US illegally? Why would they risk their lives and their children's lives? Why would they choose to live in fear of deportation? WHY WOULD THEY DO IT? Check your privilege and the answer will come to you.

Don’t worry. I’ll wait... 

Has it come to you yet?

No? I figured. Let me explain it to you.

Your life in the US, the life you take for granted, the life you are able to enjoy and benefit from, they do not have in their country. If you lose your job here, what happens? The US government supports you with unemployment programs. If you get into an accident, what then? Hospitals have to attend to you. What if you are too poor to pay for food and housing? The US government provides that for you as well. If you are in trouble and need the police or fire department/EMS? They will come to you and help you. You want to learn how to read and write? There are schools available to you.

Somallia refugee camp/AP/CTV News

Somallia refugee camp/AP/CTV News

Now, you can complain to your little heart's content about the efficiency of these programs and departments. Hell, I complain about them as well. But here is where you need to check your privilege: YOU HAVE ACCESS TO THEM. You have access to unemployment. You have access to medicare/medicaid. You have access to government assistance. You have law enforcement that is for the people.  You have access to free education from the time you are in kindergarten till you graduate from high school. Are there bad eggs? Sure. Do those bad eggs not always perform at 100% efficiency? No, not always. Do we recognize that they exist? Yes.

Americans, you have not lived through a civil war. You have not seen young boys taken at the age of 7 to become child soldiers. You have not seen young girls and boys taken from their homes to be trafficked for the enjoyment of soldiers, police, government officials or to be sold for a profit. You have not had soldiers enter your home and rape your women right in front of you.You have not seen your whole town or city become overrun by drug cartels who “are the law” and kill at random, for fun, because they can. You have not had to abandon your home to walk for miles to a refugee camp where you are living in tents (if you are lucky) with other families and with no access to, well, anything. You have not lived in a country that cannot provide basic services to you. Where the only jobs available are begging or prostitution.

When these tragedies are your reality then death on the trip or living in fear of deportation is worth it. It is worth uprooting your family, your life, your future, to live in a country where you can eek out a living for yourself. Where your children are able to play in the park, get an education, live their lives. Where they are able to live.

If after all this you still see them as a “drain on our economy” or “criminals,” I look forward to having you read my next rant on the benefits of immigration to not only the United States but around the world.

For now, I leave you with this: Check your privilege.

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