Yes, there are desperately poor Mexicans sneaking across the border for a better life in the US, illegally. And no small number at that. However, our entire attitude towards illegal immigration is based on that one damning trope.
What we don’t want to recognize (or even talk about) are the many other kinds of people affected by immigration policy. The many, many people who whose legal status was jeopardized by the US government, even though we played by the rules given to us, to the letter. Where for years, as we waite anxiously, INS said, “Don’t worry, we’re working on it. Just check in from time to time, until we get it resolved on our end.”
Lately, those very people who have been doing exactly that, are finding themselves in detention centers with no warning, separated from their families, losing their jobs, watching the lives they spent years building, being thrown under the bus. Of course, I’m sympathetic, because that was me as a kid, and as a kid, I worried about that very thing happening, and no five-year-old kid should have crushing nightmares like that. I can only imagine the anxiety of the families who are going through that right now.
We don’t see those people. We don’t even care that they’re being rounded up anyway. All we see are wetback border-jumpers, murderers and thieves. We will come up with any diversion and excuse to not look at the broader reality of immigration, because it’s too complicated. We want a meme-sized solution, one that fits within a Tweet, and the only way to do that, is to demonize a stereotype and look at nothing else. We don’t have the stomach to deal with reality. In doing so, we are shattering the lives of many innocent families who were proud Americans, until we arbitrarily decided otherwise.
This behavior isn’t going to make America safer. We aren’t just targeting murderers and thieves. We’re targeting doctors, teachers, students, military veterans, people with families and homes, many who aren’t even illegal. Destroying families just creates more crime, more poverty, more anti-American sentiment among people who have proven their patriotism and their value. That has to change, if we have any hope of making America great again.