Two days ago, there was an article about Michelle Obama speaking to a group of second graders entitled: Little Girl Who Challenged First Lady Is Right: Obama Is Deporting More Immigrants Than Ever.
The little girl asked why Obama is deporting so many immigrants to which Mrs. Obama responded that people need papers and we have to work on a solution. The little girl responded very innocently “My mom doesn’t have any papers.”
The video is here:
In the Huffington Post article, Dan Froomkin says that this little girl “became the face of the immigration debate.” I’m not sure if that will become true but more likely it is just a small blip in this national debate.
What I believe it does do however, is give people a glimpse of what the actual consequences are of supporting the knee jerk deportation reactions that many on the extreme right may feel. It puts a very real and human face on a debate that is currently employing only legal logic.
On the extreme Right, they say that those without the necessary papers should be deported straightaway. These people develop their opinions by watching Fox news and listening to other commentators such as Limbaugh, Beck and Palin and on the surface it does make sense.
However, I’m more than certain these people really do not have any personal contact with these immigrants. In other words, they simply don’t know any. To generalize, I would say that the majority are middle aged, white, live in not-so-diverse neighborhoods and really haven’t been exposed to any other cultures other than their own.
What this does is create a very narrow mindset in which the logic “No papers = deportation” and I’m sure they cannot understand why others might argue with them. I also believe that the majority of the people are not “racist” as many on the left may claim, they simply think the law should be followed!
But, let us have a look at why these people are here in the first place. If we look back to the 1995 – 2002 period the economy was booming. The fact is the USA needed the labor and was willing to look the other way in terms of legal status so long as houses were being built, manufacturers had workers and the economy kept on track.
In order to not seem as a “lefty liberal” I’ll argue this point from my Republican side circa 2000 when I was still in business school. I supported George W at that time and during his term he advocated the mantra “Jobs Americans do not want to do.” Current Republicans are saying that the Arizona Law is no different from the Federal Law and I believe they are correct. However, the Republicans under George W and the business community decided not to enforce the immigration law because the labor was needed.
Therefore, there was a mass migration from Mexico to the United States as word got around that there was money to be made. Now that times are tough the party has turned on these immigrants and now wants them to go back to Mexico!
It is simply unfair for people to be treated in the fashion and blindly looking at the law as an excuse to deport people when they were previously welcomed is wrong. Further, what the Right is not reporting is that the Obama administration is deporting more people than the Bush administration ever did but the Right accuses Obama of sanctioning illegal immigration!
All that aside, let’s return to this little girl and her innocent statement that her mom doesn’t have any papers. Without getting all “touchy-feely” about the matter, I think a lot of folk’s hearts might be softened over this event. Instead of simply following Fox news and agreeing with their closed circle of friends and neighbors they will get a glimpse of the very human consequences of the deportation policy. Instead of watching an angry Sean Hannity employ his narrow logic, we see a very innocent little girl express her real fear of having the police come to her house, have her pack her bags and go to a country she does not remember.
In that a great majority of folks that agree with the deportation policy are also Christians, it is my hope that their Christian values will overcome all the political posturing and flawed laws that are on the books. If we ask ourselves truly “What would Jesus do?” I think many of us will already know the answer and have to reflect pretty deeply to overcome previously held opinions.
This does not mean we cannot secure our borders or alleviate some of their other very reasonable concerns. As it stands now, our immigration procedures are VERY cumbersome and it was simply easier to skirt the process when there was money to be made. Instead, both political parties need to work on perhaps a guest worker program where the visas are easier to obtain but last a short amount of time. Then there would be the issue of actually enforcing these visas or create some way for them to be renewed which are not burdensome to the employers and employees.
Currently, the USA already has millions of immigrants in the country which came during the economic boom period for reasons previously described. We have to come up with an honest solution which is good for both these immigrants and the USA. Simply automatically deporting them is not a reasonable solution especially when we see them as actual families which this innocent little girl has shown.