Immigrants Are Not Our Enemies
We need to re-examine our immigration policies to provide care and respect for those who come here. America, at its best, is a welcoming community, and we need to live up to our image, instead of tarnishing it.
Through stories about the lives of strangers, and about the lives of my own family members, I was taught from an early age about the often desperate plight of the immigrant and the blazing hope that America held out to them. The immigrant story of today contains no less richness, variety, and contribution than it did a hundred or two hundred years ago.
Immigrants are not our enemies. This is so important to remember today as immigrants are often viciously scapegoated. Scapegoating immigrants, particularly Mexicans and Central Americans, is a deliberate dehumanization technique. Dehumanizing others has always been the required first step leading toward history’s collective atrocities. This is not the first time dehumanization has reared its head in our nation, and we must stand up against it now as other generations stood up against it in their time.
The deliberate attempt by some of our leaders to make Americans fear something so basic to our greatness in the name of our greatness will one day be seen as a dark, aberrational chapter in our nation’s history. Those who scapegoat immigrants, like all demagogues throughout history, are demonizing others to increase their own power.
The actual rate of criminality among immigrants—even the undocumented—is lower, not higher, than the rate of criminality among our non-immigrant citizens
And the rate of their contributions, in fields ranging from the arts to science to academia, are among the highest of any subpopulation, whether measured culturally, academically or economically. Children born of immigrants are more likely to go to college and get a degree and less likely to live in poverty. And rather than competing with U.S. workers, research has shown their skills tend to complement them.
Undocumented immigrants also contribute to Medicare and Social Security — without reaping many of its benefits. As recently as 2010, research shows undocumented immigrants paid $13 billion into Social Security but only received $1 billion in services. And they paid over $35 billion more into Medicare than they withdrew between 2000 and 2011. They also pay over $11 billion a year in state and local taxes.
The plight of the modern refugee—the vast majority of whom are asylum-seekers—is no different now than it ever was. Today, when the world has a greater refugee crisis than at any time since World War II — with over 100 million people displaced or homeless, often as a result of tragedies at least indirectly influenced by U.S. foreign policy — America is closing its heart.
Right now, people seeking asylum on the southern border of the United States are being scapegoated as criminals, their children deceitfully taken from their arms with no plan as to how they will be returned. These tactics flagrantly violate American law, which mandates that most anyone who sets foot in the United States has full constitutional protection here. Seeking asylum in America is not a scam; it is a statutory right. These asylum-seekers who enter the country as a result of fleeing persecution in their country of birth, have been grossly denied fair protection. They are being prosecuted instead of welcomed, and their efforts to escape oppression are being met by new forms of oppression – by us.
Our asylum system is a mess. It currently takes asylum seekers five or six years to get a court date. We need to hire far more asylum officers and judges, and we need to give exclusive jurisdiction to asylum officers to adjudicate these cases so that we can have much faster and fairer hearings.
Immigrating to America is not a crime. The modern immigrant is chasing the same dream of a better life that lured the ancestors of every American who isn’t descended from either slaves or Native Americans.
Building a wall at our southern border is not going to solve anything. The vast majority of illegal drugs coming through the border are coming through legal ports of entry, and similarly, many of the migrants coming through the border are actually asylum seekers who surrender themselves at legal ports of entry.
It is important that we have a president who distinguishes between threats to the United States that are real, and those that are not, and who offers real solutions, not tough-sounding political slogans.
I support legislative reforms that include a full path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who do not have serious criminal background issues. I would also work to reduce the cost of naturalization and increase resources to help people navigate that process more easily. Furthermore, our foreign policy should seek to ensure economic stability in other countries so that people do not want to seek economic refuge in the United States.
We must deal with the root causes of immigration and asylum-seeking from Latin America. Part of this means facing up to the fact that U.S. foreign policy and economic policies have destabilized countries to our south and caused immigration.
Today’s root causes of Latin American immigration have to do with two things: lack of economic opportunity and violence fueled by drug cartels.
To deal with the lack of economic opportunity, we must stop actively harming Latin American economies with our sanctions. I will end the brutal sanctions on Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. I would also greatly increase economic aid to these countries, which is currently woefully inadequate.
To deal with drug cartel violence, I will end the war on drugs. The war on drugs has failed to stop the cartels, just as it has failed to stop the drug overdoses. Instead, we have spent $1 trillion only to make the problem worse. By ending the war on drugs and legally regulating most drugs, we will take away the cartels’ black market, therefore taking away their power.
The Williamson Administration will:
- Support comprehensive immigration reform and provide a timely, ethical, transparent, and straightforward path to citizenship for all immigrants who have not violated any of the serious laws of this country, living in the United States.
- Expand the number of visas available to immigrants.
- Greatly increase humanitarian aid to struggling Latin American economies, especially for countries that have been devastated by U.S. intervention
- End our sanctions that devastate economies in Latin America and fuel immigration from countries like Cuba and Venezuela.
- End the War on Drugs so that we can legally regulate most drugs, therefore taking away the drug cartels’ black market and ultimately ending the cartel violence that fuels migration.
- For those that have been torn apart by the current and prior administrations, we must take immediate action to locate the children and reunite them with their families.
- Direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and provide them resources to adjudicate visa petitions within 30 days to shorten the duration of Family Separation for legal immigrants and citizens. One reason for the separation of families is that the DHS and the State Department take a total of 2 years or more to adjudicate visa petitions to issue the immigrant visas.
- Eliminate discriminatory and harmful policies and practices by all federal immigration agencies.
- Speed up general immigration processing by expanding staffing and funding immigration courts.
- Hire far more asylum officers and give exclusive jurisdiction to asylum officers to adjudicate these cases so that we can have much faster and fairer hearings.
- Ensure all immigration judges have civil service protection.
- Ensure that due process and constitutional protections are available to undocumented immigrants when it comes to deportation issues.
- Repeal section 212(a)(9)(B)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act concerning Accruing Unlawful Presence. Currently, unlawful presence is accrued if: You are present in the United States without being admitted or paroled; or. You have remained in the United States after the expiration of the period of stay authorized by the DHS secretary.
- I fully support DACA. Our dreamers represent the best about our future. I would update the registration date of the 1929 Registry Act to 1/1/2022, restore Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which expired in April 2001, allowing people who have approved petitions to apply for their Green Card upon payment of a fine for the filing fee.
- Reduce the record number of detainees currently under DHS and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) control.
- Hold accountable all ICE and Customs and Border Protection agents who committed human rights violations.
- We will work to close private detention centers that are an arm of the Immigration Industrial Complex.
- Increase funding and training for patrol agents.
- The Muslim/African Travel Ban under the Trump administration separated thousands of families for years. The Williamson administration will urge Congress to pass the No Ban Act (H.R 1333).
- Expand LGBTQ Protection. LGBTQ immigrants and asylum seekers who experience discrimination here, as well as in their countries of origin, should receive additional protections. Government employees should be trained to be particularly sensitive to the issues they face abroad, in this nation, and during the immigration process.
- Call for a repeal of the “Patriot Act” which was the first of many changes to surveillance laws that made it easier for the government to spy on Americans by expanding the authority to monitor phone and email communications and collect bank and credit reporting records. The Patriot Act was also used to surveil law-abiding immigrants all over the country.
- Reject the use of unproven and dangerous extreme vetting analytics and tactics, and the use of surveillance data to prevent people from coming into the country based on biased and flawed information.
- Reject the use of facial recognition surveillance programs that are riddled with racial discrimination issues.