I was looking around this morning to find some data to debunk some myths folks have in their heads about folks who are coming to this country, usually to escape poverty and violence and find a better life.
The George W. Bush center, believe it or not, had a pretty good, informative infographic.
Those images are attached to this post.
Families sitting in tent cities, big warehouses full of dog runs, now filled with people, and baby jails in Texas right now are asylum-seekers.
A lot of them are there because of warlords made strong by the import of unregistered US Guns into their countries. Some of them are caught int he crossfire in conflicts in Central America. Some are escaping the poverty brought on by the flooding of their agricultural markets with GMO corn and soy products. Some of them are fleeing because companies like Nestle and Suez and Coca Cola have privatized water and left the poor with no access.
Lately, particularly because the private prison system wants to keep building jails, but they aren’t able to hit their numbers by just rounding up inner city unemployed Black and brown folks, the new growth sector for private prison systems is immigrants.
Before all of this “build the wall” and “empower ICE to protect our borders,” nonsense, lobbyists helped to market the idea that we needed to have a place to put people who come to the US without proper documentation. These facilities have been built within 3 to 5 miles of international airports across the country, including a facility in Dulles, Virginia, with the justification that its inconvenient to house people at the airport who are in violation of visa laws.
If these facilities sit empty, private prisons lose money. If they are filled, local, state and federal governments are billed per occupant to house, feed, and clothe people, so where folks usually come here, do the jobs most of us don’t want to do and contribute to the economy, what we’re doing when we lock these folks up, is we are actually taking resources that could be spent on education, better roads, infrastructure, housing programs for people in poverty, etc, and we’re giving that money to private prisons.
What we’re also doing, specifically in the case of migrant farm workers, is this – food is rotting in the fields because farmers can’t find people to pick it. Most Americans have no interest in standing in fields in the hot sun with spiders, bees, snakes, and rats, with nowhere nearby to use the bathroom, stooped over to cut lettuce, pull potatoes out of the ground, lift heavy bushels of produce, get stung by bees while harvesting fruit, etc. Migrant workers have done that work on both sides of the border for years, but with tougher immigration standards, its harder for the legal workers to get the visas they need to do their jobs.
Today, protesters are gathering in the hot sun in Washington to protest the new interpretation of immigration law – where asylum seekers are being rushed through a process that labels them as criminals, without access to legal representation. This then triggers the ability to take the children from these “criminals,” and send them off for private foster care and eventual adoption, in large part by privately funded religious organizations.
The families may never see their children again.
This practice is referred to by the US as Cultural Genocide.
We need immigration policy that includes a path to citizenship, process for those seeking asylum so they are not separated from their families, and to allow folks to be able to seek education and employment in this country. This country’s strength and innovation has relied on our ability to keep the doors open and to provide shelter and a place to seek a better life.
Immigration makes us a stronger nation. Fear and hatred only makes us weak.
We also need better foreign policy so we aren’t in our actions creating conditions that force people to leave their homes, lives and families, risk death from smugglers and exposure crossing deserts or riding in the backs of enclosed trucks without access to air, in an attempt to come to a country that was once seen as the place where poor, huddled masses came, attracted by the light of the torch and the words associated with the Statue of Liberty, yearning to breathe free and work toward a better life.
We would all fare better as human beings if folks could find liberty and breathe free wherever we are, and wherever we choose to be.