France is a pretty cool country. It has universal health care, mandatory paid vacations, a decent, living, wage, and great culture. It’s not perfect, it struggles with race issues just like we do, and probably more because it does not enjoy our diversity. Still, I think I’d like to live there. Fortunately finding out how to get into France legally is pretty easy. I just get on Google and find the French Consulate’s website. It has all the information I need: whether or not I need a visa, how much it will cost, where to go, all the legal wrangling I may have to go through. It looks like a pain, but maybe I will do it. Like I said, France sounds like my kind of place, and I think I can relearn French.
Nah, just kidding, I have no intention of leaving this country. There is too much to fix here, too much work to be done. For instance fixing not just our immigration system, but people’s attitudes about it. So many with so much vitriol for the undocumented foreign residents of our potentially great nation will tell them that they should “just follow the rules.” On the face of it sounds reasonable. We do have laws that allow people to come to this country. Yes they are flawed, and often racist, but they still allow for the disenfranchised and dispossessed to get here. So, yeah, why aren’t they following the rules?
The thing is the rules are not always easy to find. Yes, as an American living in the land of relatively easily accessible wi-fi I was able to Google how to get to France. People living in poor rural communities in less developed nations do not have that advantage. People living in countries torn apart by violent, internal conflict often cannot get to an US consulate in their country, even if they know that it exists. The same people who are so willing to declare other cultures or countries as “backwards” and “uneducated” apparently expect people living in those countries to behave as though they have the advantages we do.
From the standpoint of a pretty hardcore lefty the President has been disappointing, but his recent speech regarding the immigration issue was a winner. Yes, we want people to come here legally, but we want to be able to give them opportunities to do so. Much of the narrative from conservatives revolves around securing our border in the south. They want more patrols to catch those coming in illegally. What they don’t have is a plan for what to do next. No, strike that, they have one: just send them back. Just send them back without interviewing them. Just send them back without knowing what we are sending them into. Just send them back without figuring out how they and we can benefit from them becoming citizens of our country. It is obvious folks are not concerned about the legality of immigration, but that “those” people are coming here, otherwise we would be having discussions about INS bringing in those illegally crossing out borders to centers with the resources to help them become legal residents and one day, if they want, citizens.
It seems we lack both empathy and imagination in this country. None of us is willing or able to ask, in a land wracked with poverty, starving to death, with no safe access to institutions to allow us to leave, what would we do? None of us has a better plan for people living in fear and deprivation, people just looking to make a better life for themselves or their families. So without your Google, without a state department or interstate highway system to get you to the French Consulate, how would you do it better? Tell me, what is your solution for people, besides just go back where you came from?