Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thoughts About Immigration Policies


The United States implemented a new immigration policy in the 1980s. It provided a path to citizenship for some people who had not fulfilled the administrative rules for entering and staying in the country. The new policy also made crossing the border between Mexico and the USA much more difficult -- high wall were erected, border patrols were increased, and technology was used more aggressively to detect illegal border crossings.

Prior to the new policy of the 80s, people from Latin America often came to the USA to work for a season and then returned to their homes, secure in the knowledge that they could fairly easily reenter the next year or at some future time.

With the new policy, it became so difficult and so dangerous to cross the border that many immigrants who would have returned to their own countries, simply stayed. The number of undocumented workers shot up to the current 11 million or more.

A humanitarian effort by the Obama administration to deal more humanely with undocumented immigrants who were children led to a flood of unaccompanied kids crossing the border in recent years.


The European Union and Illegal Immigrants Crossing the Mediterranean

Last year Europe decreased the 2015 budget to stop ships bringing illegal immigrants from north Africa to Europe. The idea apparently was that if there were fewer resources that could safe immigrants who were in danger at sea, then the number of people making the journey would decrease. We find that the number actually increased, and people have died in large numbers this Spring.

It seems that people escaping from wars and persecution, and people desperate for more economic opportunity, and especially people who have spent all their financial resources and been en route to Europe for long periods of time felt that they had to take the risk, even if they knew it had increased.

Europeans are scrambling to find a new policy.

Mediterranean migrant crisis: May wants some people returned
Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian Policy and the Boat People

People from Myanmar and Bangladesh have for some years sought asylum in Thailand, Malaysia and even Indonesia, fleeing from persecution and poverty in their homeland by boat. This year the Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian governments have apparently instituted severe new policies barring such boats from landing and unloading their human cargoes.

Ships are now at sea that have been denied such landing rights. Some have run out of fuel, food and water. Crews have abandoned the ships and passengers. People are dying.

Stranded Myanmar Rohingya boat migrants desperate


My parents came to the USA as immigrants. My wife's family also came to this country as immigrants some generations back. I have a visceral feeling that immigrants are people too.

Like my wife, my son and my parents, I have lived in three different countries. I have been welcomed in those countries.

I have worked in more than 35 countries, and visited another 15 or so, finding people I liked and respected in all of those countries.

I have come to the conclusion that there are universal human rights, that "all men are endowed with certain rights", and that we ought to extend human rights to even the most humble people seeking asylum by crossing borders.

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