Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Immigration Dilemma: A Six Week Series

Welcome to "The Immigration Dilemma," a six week blog series designed to help you understand the immigration dilemma in the United States.

Almost everyone I've met over the past five years of working on immigration issues seems to recognize that there is a problem with immigration in the United States. However, most people can't seem to agree on what exactly this problem is.

On the one hand, I hear people telling me that immigrants are breaking our laws, that they are criminals, or even that they are invading the United States with the plan to annex portions of the Southwest into Mexico. This is then followed by telling me that immigrants become a drain on our social services once they are here even though they don't pay taxes or that immigrants steal jobs away from documented workers and undercut wages.

On the other, people see immigration as a problem for very different reasons. They see parents being separated from their citizen children when they are deported. They see people being racially profiled along the border and held in detention centers with substandard and inhumane conditions. They see people escaping deadly conflict and economic disparity, and they also see an economy which is dependent on foreign labor.

Especially in Congress--which is where I spend most of my time talking about the issue these days--each side tends to make the issue very simplified, pitting one perspective against the other. "This bill provides amnesty to criminals" vs "Opposing this bill is racist and nativist."

Neither of these perspectives, however, captures the complexity of the issue and moves towards a solution. Rather, this pitted debate has caused a stalemate in government. Immigration reform has failed in the last two Congresses, leaving us with a worsening status-quo and a contentious issue that can be used to derail any other major policy issue.

I believe, however, that we can find a solution. But we need to come to the issue with an understanding of its complexities and nuances. Therefore, I have written this series which will be published each Wednesday at 3 pm.

My hope is that this series will help us all take a step back from the pro-/anti- rhetoric of immigration in the United States and help us take a look at how the U.S. immigration system actually works.

Each post will provide an overview of the subject covered, questions for discussion and discernment, and a list of additional resources. I hope this will help us all navigate the immigration dilemma a little better.

1 comment:

  1. Alex, is this the first post and the others are yet to come? I'm really interested in following along...of course when I addressed this issue with our immigration LA, it was laid out in the same debate-stifling terms as you've aptly described here. I had been hoping for some actual insight, but instead it seemed I was the less "educated" one because I had a far more complex (and in their eyes, unnecessary) understanding of immigration in all its forms. We are talking about a concept of the movement of all kinds of people... I feel even the term immigration is far too broad to begin any kind of precise discussion. We can talk about national groups, but then there are some documented and others with TPS and others with legal status...I wonder if we could specify the concept a bit and deal with "immigration" chunk by chunk: social services, crime, taxes, identity theft, overpopulation, sterotypes, language acquisition, job skills, etc. instead of assuming all these issues are either "good" or "bad" depending on your politicized view of "immigration."