With the rapid spread of communication tools enabling a free-form flow of ideas and opinions, the American public is perhaps more vocal now than at any other time in history. When these public opinions are parlayed into political discourse, the rhetoric can feel emotionally charged and heated. The latest long-running issue reaching this precipitous slope of loud, often-times incomplete and mechanistic outrage is immigration reform, or in this case, a general lack thereof. Over 321 protests took place over the July 19 weekend, with protesters citing that an estimated 55,000 children have entered the United States illegally since the spring. According to protest organizers, this is “the largest coordinated protest against all forms of amnesty, comprehensive immigration reform, and the government’s failure to enforce immigration laws and secure our borders.”
In recent years, immigration in the United States has been an issue spoken of with passion on both sides of the divide, with seemingly little room for compromise in between. On June 15, 2012, the Obama administration issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which ordered various departments to follow a set of guidelines when attempting to prosecute undocumented immigrant children fifteen years of age or older. Included in these guidelines is a clause stating that the migrant individual must be enrolled in or have graduated from an educational institution and have no prior criminal conviction. Essentially, to qualify under the act, the person must pose no immediate threat to national security and have an educational background that will help establish their contribution to the American workforce.
DACA, from a conservative perspective, is seen as the number one cause of r the recent rise of undocumented children arriving in the United States, and has been a central war cry of the protestors. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas recently proposed a bill to disrupt any expansion of DACA, which, if expanded, would grant six million undocumented immigrants amnesty. The fear is that these children are diverting resources from a legal citizenry. What this fails to take into consideration is the future contribution these children may have on the economic landscape.
Unsurprisingly, relying solely on DACA to fuel protestation creates the false equivalence that 100 percent of United States political action dictates 100 percent of immigrant related issues. Increased criminal violence and a growing political unease in Central America has left children with few options, and has been posited as a core reason for the influx of undocumented child immigrants. In a recent survey conducted by the United Nations, which interviewed 404 children, 48 percent claimed to have experienced “violence from organized and armed criminals like drug cartels, gangs, or state actors.” Worth noting is that only 2 percent claimed to have illegally entered the United States based on DACA.
Family reunification has also been mentioned as a strong motivator for the recent child immigration. In this scenario, a parent will leave their family back home to find illegal work in the United States. After the parent has settled into their new role, the rest of the family joins them to take part in a new life. According to the same UN study, 36 percent of children stated “family reunification” as a central reason for coming to the United States.
Underneath all of the statistics and emotions is a simple, yet abrasive fact — what’s ours is ours and you’re not welcome to it. This sentiment echoes through the political noise and citizen protestation. It means that even children, if they have the misfortune of being born surrounded by criminal violence and governmental strife, are not only unwelcome on our land, but are seen as an almost invasive parasite.