Democrats & Liberals Archives

About me/Refugees or Illegals?

Hello fellow Democrats and Liberals!

My name’s Trey, I’m 19, and a sophomore at Western Michigan University, and despite coming from a family chock full of Republicans, I’m a Democrat. I’m openly gay and am a direct immigrant descendant.

That leads me into the topic of my first entry here on WatchBlog: The immigrant children crisis in the Southwest.

In case you haven't been paying attention, thousands of unaccompanied children have left their Central American countries and headed for the United States, were caught by the Border Patrol and are currently in makeshift detention centers pending legal proceedings to determine whether they have refugee status, family in the United States who could sponsor them, or will be deported.

Many of these children fled their countries to escape gang violence, human trafficking, sex tourism, forced prostitution, domestic violence, and other ugly realities that we're urged every day to report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They're not invaders as Michele Bachmann put it, and no Raul Labrador, they don't deserve to be automatically deported back into these situations without any sort of due process.

However the laws surrounding this issue is very vague and open to interpretation. 42% of unaccompanied minors that were caught at the border will be granted permanent residency through Special Immigrant Juveniles Status, which aids children who were abused, neglected, or otherwise. According to US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS), if you receive your Green Card (Permanent Resident status) through SIJS, you can never petition to sponsor your parents for a Green Card, as you must not be able to be reunited with your parents, and you can't sponsor your siblings for a Green Card until you become a US Citizen.

In order to be eligible for SJIS, you have to be found by a state court to be a court Dependent, in other words, have no family in the US and not have any way to get back because of abuse, neglect, or otherwise, and you must have been found to have been abused or neglected in your home country based on the laws of the individual state. This creates many, many problems because if you were caught in Texas, you may be eligible for SJIS there, but not in New Mexico or Arizona. The key here is that the state court has to find that it would be against the child's best interest to be deported back to the child's home country.

The United States has been known to not follow its own Constitution when it comes to dealing with people who came here illegally. None of these children are given a lawyer, which is a violation of the Sixth Amendment. The Sixth Amendment gives the right to a speedy trial by jury, as well as concluding with, "and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."

The immigration judge then decides whether the case is even going to go to a state court to determine if the child is eligible for SJIS. In all fairness, this is probably to weed out those who won't be eligible and put only the ones who are into court to start the process of SJIS.

Those who aren't eligible for SJIS still have a shot at staying in the United States, but it's much more difficult, especially when the rules for refugee status are up for individual interpretation, and when you don't have an immigration lawyer. According to USCIS, a refugee is someone who:

-Is currently outside the United States.
-Is of "special concern" to the United States.
-Demonstrates that they were persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
-Is not firmly resettled in another country.
-Is admissible to the United States.

Those are hard standards to meet, and the US surprisingly isn't the most draconian when it comes to immigration. The United States still grants asylum to some of these children, whereas in Australia, if you show up illegally and claim refugee status, they throw you in a prison until they've evaluated your claim, and if you're approved for refugee status, you're then settled in Papua New Guinea, but not Australia to send the message that if you're there illegally, you're not staying, in spite of the horrors you fled from in your home country.

The idiots from Murrieta, California who shouted racial slurs and blocked the buses from entering are precisely what's wrong with America. We used to say, "Give me your tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Nowadays it's "Go home you nasty foreigners, this is MURRRKA!"

I myself am a descendant of fairly recent immigrants. My great-great grandfather was from Marcedusa, Italy and had 4 children when his wife died. He married the babysitter and while on the ship from Italy to Ellis Island, they conceived my great-grandfather. They settled in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and when my great-grandfather came of age, he moved to Detroit to work for Henry Ford's car factories and my family's been in Michigan ever since. In one of those factories, he met a cute redhead named Antonia, herself an immigrant from Croatia. Together, they had my grandfather.

If America was as hateful to immigrants back then as it is now, I may not be here. It's a cultural change, and just like the gun fetish, it seems to have been ingrained in us now and it will take a generation or two to change.

I think this is an issue that we as a nation can't solve on our own. We need to collaborate with Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, and all the Central American countries to have a refugee outreach alliance to rescue these kids from these situations and resettle them in countries that can take them. They're not horrible, nasty people, they're children. When you walk 2 and a half weeks from Guatemala to Texas, that's not evil, that's pure desperation and searching for a better life. It's time we stop just painting people with a broad brush and take a look at the individual circumstances that led them to come to the United States.

Posted by TreyL at July 16, 2014 4:50 PM
Comment #380869

Welcome Treyl. Interesting post.

“From 1892 to 1954, over twelve million immigrants entered the United States through the portal of Ellis Island…”

12 million divided by 62 years equals 193,548 average per year.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the United States accepted 1,062,040 legal permanent residents in fiscal year 2011, a number that has been fairly steady over the past few years.

The distance from Guatemala City to Brownsville is 1286 miles. That’s quite a walk in two and a half weeks. Are you certain that they are NOT riding trains? How are illegals entering Mexico, and traveling through the country, without any trouble considering Mexico’s tough laws on illegal border crossing?

Treyl writes; “If America was as hateful to immigrants back then as it is now, I may not be here.”

It is not “hate” Treyl, but common sense and the protection of our own citizens. Did you know that most of the European refugees fleeing the Nazis and World War II were barred from coming to the United States? Was that a hateful attitude?

I would be interested to know Treyl, your reasoning for any country to have borders and immigration policy. Should we open our borders to everyone?

Treyl writes; “We need to collaborate with Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, and all the Central American countries to have a refugee outreach alliance to rescue these kids from these situations and resettle them in countries that can take them.”

What? Aren’t some of these countries the same ones they fled from?

Posted by: Royal Flush at July 16, 2014 7:27 PM
Comment #380871

I’m not one of those “NO BORDERS AT ALL” hippies, but I think that immigration policies should be less restrictive. As someone who wants to immigrate to Canada, I’d have to marry my Canadian boyfriend or get a job in a very specific field to even have a shot at permanent residency someday. I just think we should look at the circumstances rather than just say “well they came here illegally and that’s the end of it.”

Posted by: TreyL at July 16, 2014 8:22 PM
Comment #380883

TreyL, congratulations on your first post as a commentator on WatchBlog.

Your post is very well written and informative. However, I am not going to comment on the substance of your post. My comment is directed toward the format of your post and a suggestion on how to correct it.

It’s simple, really. Your entire post is in the body section of the MovableType Comment Entry page making your entire post be displayed on the front page on WatchBlog. This crowds out the other posts in the Democrats and Liberals column.

To correct this it would be best to cut the majority of your post and paste it into the extended section in the MovableType Comment Creation page.

An excellent point to split the post would be after:

That leads me into the topic of my first entry here on WatchBlog: The immigrant children crisis in the Southwest.

Doing this would put the first paragraph describing your post on the front page with a link that says “Continue reading About me/Refugees or Illegals?” directing the reader to the entire post on a separate page.

Any contributor on the Blue column should be able to help you with this edit with the MovableType Comment entry utility.

Again, congratulations and welcome to WatchBlog.

Posted by: Weary Willie at July 17, 2014 1:33 PM
Comment #380884

Trey most agree that we need a less restrictive immigration policy, greater use of the H2, and/or a guest worker program. To get to any of that however you have to be able to control the border and stop the flow of people who don’t play by any rules. And unfortunately you have to start sending the message to Central America that if you show up you are just going to be sent back as harsh as it is for these kids.

As for Canada get your degree and they will happily take you under their economic class program.

Posted by: George in SC at July 17, 2014 2:43 PM
Comment #380908

Welcome to WB TreyL and thank you for letting us know a little about you, that takes courage.

As much as people of this country think of their citizenship, and those that do not have that same fortune, I would think that more people could give details that you provided on how that exactly came about. Most people I talk to aren’t really sure who was the first person to gain citizenship in their immigrant family. I know from my experience that my grandmother immigrated and my father was born here, the same would hold true for my mother and her parents. I am in my late 60’s and all of the people I could ask about how my grandparents attained citizenship are now gone. I suppose I could try to dig through some archives to find out, but I kind of like it the way it is. When I was growing up there wasn’t such a demanding need to find that kind of stuff out, we were all more concerned with how fortunate we felt to be a part of this great country. Now there seems to be more of a mentality of aggressive displays of exclusion rather than the inclusion this country was built on. Not that I didn’t experience prejudice and bigotry growing up, I just new that it wouldn’t remain that way and I still feel that way about today’s circumstances.

Good luck to you and your endeavors. I look forward to your next post.

Posted by: Speak4all at July 18, 2014 3:13 PM
Comment #380910

Welcome Trey

First, please do a little research on how legal immigrants back then were treated and compare it to the way we coddle the illegal aliens of today. They were often subjected to sanctioned discrimination and outright violence, not with chants of enforcing our laws.

Second, exactly what is “hateful” about supporting our legal immigration laws and protecting our country?

I hope you don’t choose to just paint people with a broad brush and use words like MURRKA and gun fetish to further insinuate that dumb ole hateful white rednecks are the problem. Let’s have an honest discussion of the problem by discussing the facts.

Posted by: kctim at July 18, 2014 4:09 PM
Comment #381333

Welcome to Watchblog!

The beauty of the Republican and Tea Party position is that it’s so simplified, you really can’t go wrong with conservatives pushing it. You can only screw it up by making exceptions.

The ugliness of the position is that it trades simplicity for any kind of real life justice or functionality. Sure it’s easy to look like you’re getting tough with illegal immigrants, but in a world often fraught with war, conflict, and despotic regimes abusing their people, a simple “keep the Furners out” policy becomes less workable, less defensible.

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