Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Immigration Game

Here is a provocative, legitimate, and thoroughly misleading remark thinly disguised as a question:

Of course, the US wouldn't. However, that has less to do with ethnicity than with status in the USA, derived from the manner in which the individuals and families arrived.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, CNN posted on March 16 an article in which Donie O'Sullivan (not too obvious, are we, CNN?) wrote (and to which O'Sullivan linked)

They're spared the glances. The "go back to your country" slurs facing so many undocumented migrants in the US. But they live in fear. They don't call the police when there's a break in. They think twice before they bring a sick child to the emergency room. Only, they're white - and they're Irish.

An estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants live in the United States -- they make up a small percentage of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living there, the majority of whom were born in Mexico.

"It is easier being illegal here when you're white," Shauna, an undocumented Irish immigrant, tells CNN. "It's not easy, of course, you have that paranoia but there isn't the racial element. It's a bit easier to stay under the radar."

Relax, Shauna- you're not getting deported, even under the administration of Donald J. Trump.

Two months earlier, NPR had written

As the Trump administration demands funding for a border wall to stop illegal immigration, a new study finds that for the seventh consecutive year, visa overstays far exceeded unauthorized border crossings.

The report released Wednesday by the Center for Migration Studies of New York finds that from 2016-2017, people who overstayed their visas accounted for 62 percent of the newly undocumented, while 38 percent had crossed a border illegally.

"It is clear from our research that persons who overstay their visas add to the US undocumented population at a higher rate than border crossers. This is not a blip, but a trend which has become the norm," said Donald Kerwin, CMS' executive director, in a statement. "As these numbers indicate, construction of hundreds of more miles of border wall would not address the challenge of irregular migration into our country, far from it."

Even during the Bush and Obama administrations, virtually all the attention given to people in the "without documentation" was directed toward those walking in through the southern border. According to a report authored by Robert Warren of the Center for Migration Studies, employees of Customs and Border Patrol approximately doubled during the Bush, and then again during the Obama, administrations.  

NPR added

"Since more than one half of all US undocumented residents arrive by air, visa-issuing posts have become the real frontline deterrent to undocumented migration," the study concludes. "This report suggests that more attention and resources should be given to that crucial mission of the US Department of State."

Of course they should. And of course they won't. As "Shauna" suggested, it is easier "being illegal" (not "undocumented?" alert the thought police!) and navigating American society safely and securely "when you're white."

But there is much more to it than that. Apprehending and placing into detention or concentration camps is much more dramatic than arresting a few individuals (or families) here and a few there, as would be the case if visa overstays were taken seriously.

Moreover, many of these people are working.  Imprisoning individuals whose visas have overstayed would  be inconvenient for employers, who must not be inconvenienced.  Largely for that reason, but because occurring  under the radar it would not be much of a deterrent, it won't be done by a Republican president. Primarily because it involves disadvantaging immigrants, it won't be done by a Democratic president, who also wouldn't be eager to incur the wrath of the business community.

As images of conditions in the detention camps at the border continue to shock the consciences of all but the soulless, Rob Reiner charges "The trauma of ripping children from parents & forcing them into cages, living in filth, is just evil."

Nonetheless, although the policy is motivated partially by ethnic hatred and cruelty, there are other factors, as the increasing presence of individuals who have come to the USA legally but are now here illegally implies. Ezra Klein believes that President Trump's Independence Day extravaganza is one of his "symbolic fights (intended) to distract attention from his corruption, unpopular policy, and general incompetence." Immigration policy is another.

                                   HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

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