I used to miss entire school days in order to get family visas in Ecuador. Spending rainy afternoons bickering over paperwork about whether we, as missionaries, deserved to stay in the country got old fast. I could go on for hours with horror stories of botched names, switched genders and lawyers in decrepit buildings that took place all because God called us to Ecuador and we wanted to stay.
It’s good to be back on American soil. That is because, unlike Ecuador, this land was built by immigrants, for immigrants.
I’ve been very fortunate for the gates to be open wide to my family’s travels back to the U.S.A. However, that is not always the case for everyone.
Yup, this column is about immigration.
Immigration is a multifaceted, deeply political issue that touches on every raw nerve that we’ve accumulated as a country. Through this conflict problems of racism, crime, sexism, money and this battle for the American Dream have all come into play. It’s made us fight for human rights on our very own shores and lose sleep over who’s right and who’s wrong.
This lack of sleep stems from very serious questions. What do we do about people traveling over tumultuous seas with coyoteros (human smugglers) to cross into our borders illegally? Do we send people living illegally back to their respective countries even though they’ve set up their lives and families here? What do we do about drug cartels crossing in and out of our borders? What do we do about people escaping very frightening situations in their homeland?
Sometimes this issue seems like, “Who deserves to be here and who doesn’t?”
Illegal immigration is a very serious issue and crime. However, punishment must also be at the behest of mercy. At the end of the day many of us are here because someone way down our family line decided to brave an epic journey overseas for freedom. We owe our lives to those who dared to come to a land they didn’t know in the hopes of something greater than they could have imagined.
However, things aren’t up to par over here. We’re over 17 billion dollars in debt, the stock market seems to be a hop, skip and a jump away from crashing, unemployment is dropping but still a serious issue, and issues in education and the economy are, even now, struggling to find answers.
We still have American men and women in the Middle East and we’re spending millions on drone strikes in Iraq and wherever ISIS may rear its ugly head.
The people who cross into America are humans and they deserve to be treated as such. Those that come to the U.S. come to pursue a life where they are free to pursue what they choose, where they can innovate without any fear of tyranny, where they can make their voices heard without knowing they’ll be incarcerated for doing so, and where they can make and do business as they please.
So, let reform take place and end this nonsense of building fences and making citizenship more difficult to achieve.
What sort of solution, both politically and in our own lives, is solved by not solving the issue at hand? Foreign relations must deepen and it should be our prerogative, as the nation we are, to help strengthen the economies and infrastructure of some of the most hurting countries at our front door.
Immigration will only see reform when not just the paperwork becomes easier, but when the people are willing to adapt to a new generation of immigrants.