Communique Editorial Vol. 15 Issue 4

3 Apr

EVERY country has an underclass of workers to do the jobs no one else wants: France has its Muslim ghetto population; India has its untouchables; the United States has illegal immigrants.

It’s a symbiotic but unequal relationship. Undocumented immigrants need income, and the economies of these countries would be debilitated without cheap manual labor. So they continue in an exploitative partnership, now under further attack by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s anti-immigration bill.

Last December, Sensenbrenner convinced the House of Representatives to pass the “Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005” (H.R. 4437). Under this act, undocumented immigrants would become felons. The bill, now under consideration in the Senate, also seeks to erect 700 miles of fencing along the Mexican border, limit immigrants’ access to circuit courts, make undocumented immigration status a criminal (not a civil) offense, expand mandatory detention policies and more.

This means that if you, as a foreign student, let your course load drop below the required credits, you will be considered a criminal.

The bill will result in the detention of an astounding number of immigrants. Many will be subject to deportation; those whose home countries refuse them will be subject to indefinite detainment. The Department of Homeland Security’s plans to build $385 million worth of immigrant detention centers (contracted to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown Root) is hardly a productive response.

U.S. immigration rates are higher than ever. But militarizing the Mexican border and criminalizing immigrants is not the answer xenophobic lawmakers think it is. People will continue to filter through the borders, albeit at higher personal cost. They are already aware that they could be deported, even killed, in the process. Many sell themselves into years of sweatshop labor to repay those who brought them here. They are not likely to stop their dangerous journeys with these changed stakes. The situations in their countries of origin are still just as desperate.

Sweatshops will continue to operate in cities like New York and Los Angeles, 500,000-strong protest rallies will continue to be underreported, and the country’s 12 million undocumented immigrants will continue to live lives of quiet desperation. This legislation will merely force them to gamble more heavily, lose more if caught and live far more miserable lives while on U.S. soil.

This editorial was printed in the fourth edition(PDF) of the student newspaper of the School of International and Public Affairs, Communiqué, where I was editor-in-chief, in the spring of 2006.

One Response to “Communique Editorial Vol. 15 Issue 4”

  1. Rachana Agarwal 21 June 2011 at 11:43 AM #

    A well argued piece although I wonder what a possible solution might be to this issue.

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