Monday, July 29, 2013

Blame the Parents

We recently posted a link to a report done about a study of the psychological effects on children of unauthorized immigrants, done by the American Psychological Association. It’s a serious issue, considering that we deported about 80,000 parents of U.S. citizen children last year. 

Representative Luis Gutierrez recently stated in a town hall meeting that his children have it good.  He leaves for work in the morning and they expect him to return that evening.  But he pointed out that millions of children in the United States have a fear that when their parents leave that they will never see them again.  Many times parents have been picked up at their work sites, detained, and deported with no one bothering to inform the children.  Children are often told that if mommy and daddy don’t come home that evening, they should contact certain relatives who can help.  They also live prepared to pack up and move at a moment’s notice.  Sometimes when clients travel to see us from someplace outside the metropolitan Kansas City area, they bring their entire family because they don’t want to risk some of them being stopped, detained and deported and being separated from the rest of the family.

In response to the posting of the study on Youtube, one person remarked, “blame the parents.”  How convenient.  Apparently, we have no responsibility to children as long as there’s someone to blame.  Maybe the parents brought them here without authorization, or maybe the children were born here after the parents came, or perhaps the parents overstayed a legal visa (about 40% of the people here without authorization are overstays rather than illegal entrants), but does that mean we have no responsibility toward them?
I remember several years ago, a baby in Texas fell down an uncovered pipeline in her parents’ backyard.  “Baby Jessica” they called her.  The entire community, indeed the entire nation, was fixated on the rescue attempt (which was ultimately successful, to everyone’s jubilation).  The community and the nation could have easily said, “blame the parents.”   It was, after all, their backyard and maybe they should have known about the open pipe.

Or perhaps when a child is injured in a car accident and the mother is at fault, we could simply refuse to rescue the child and say “blame the parents.”
Certainly there is almost always someone we can point a finger at whenever there is a tragedy.  What the “blame the parents” guy really means is that the parents don’t belong here, so anything that happens to the kids is not his concern.  But the parents were coming to give their children a better life.  That’s what good parents do.  Maybe the fault lay in the Mexican economy at that time.  Maybe the fault lay in treaties between governments that allow large corporations to purchase and drive off of their land millions of peasants who then came to the U.S. seeking work.  Maybe the fault lay with U.S. employers who invited them to come and gave them jobs.

These issues are complex.  The one thing we understand from a moral perspective is this: when we have the power to do good and refuse to do it, we are wrong.  In fact, that is one of the classic definitions of “sin” in religious terms.
We can’t simply sit back, shake our heads, and say “blame the parents.” We have a responsibility to do good when we can.  Of course we can’t fix every wrong that’s in this world because we’re limited in our resources.  But this one we definitely can fix.  Every legitimate economic study on the issue has said that it is a net benefit economically for the U.S. to create a path to legalization for those who are here without authorization.  It is not costing us anything.  The cost of inaction, however, is great.  Many of these children are U.S. citizens by birth, and will someday be leaders, employers, and workers in this country.  What kind of citizens will we be raising if we continue to deport their parents and then wash our hands of any responsibility for the situation we could have changed, but refused?

By: Roger McCrummen
McCrummen Immigration Law Group

Monday, July 15, 2013

5 Reasons to Remain Optimistic About Immigration Reform

Less than 24 hours after the November 2012 presidential election, we watched as immigration came to the forefront of national politics. As other social, economic, and defense issues dominated media coverage, immigration reform remained a priority on Capitol Hill. Now, three weeks after a comprehensive immigration bill passed in the Senate, the media, advocates, and the public are weary. Optimism for an immigration reform bill in the House is low. As quickly as the momentum for meaningful change built, the fatigue of partisan politics threatens to take it away.

So why should we be optimistic about reform? Is a continued fight towards reform a wasted effort? I don’t think so. Here are five reasons to remain optimistic:

  1. The House Judiciary has recently approved four immigration bills: the Skills Visa Act (increasing visa numbers for highly skilled workers and offering limited green cards to entrepreneurs), the Legal Workforce Act (mandatory e-Verify), the Agricultural Guestworker Act (visas for temporary farm laborers), and the SAFE Act (border security). While action by the House, not all of these bills move overall immigration reform in the right direction

  2. The issue isn’t as divisive as it seems. The majority of Americans favor fixing our immigration system. A recent Gallup poll suggests that Americans have become more favorable to immigration in recent years. Another Gallup poll suggests that 87% of Americans would support a path to citizenship for undocumented individuals.

  3. We still care about the Dreamers. The Huffington Post is reporting that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) are working on a bill to help undocumented children become permanent residents

  4. It only takes 17. To pass in the House, a bill would only need the support of 17 House Republicans if every Democrat supported it.

  5. The President is still fighting, albeit quietly. Despite Congress’s urging the President to lay low on this issue, the President has continued to support reform. Three times this past month, President Obama has pushed for immigration reform in his weekly radio address, highlighting its economic benefits. Even former President George W. Bush has continued to support reform: 
    “We can uphold our traditions of assimilating immigrants and honoring our heritage as a nation built on the rule of law. But we have a problem. The laws governing the immigration system are broken. The system is broken.” (Remarks at Naturalization Ceremony, 7/10/2013)

By: Kelli J. Stout
Associate Attorney for McCrummen Immigration Law Group

Monday, July 8, 2013

Deport the Deficit, Not Immigrants

Dear Rep. Sam Graves,

Do you prioritize shrinking the federal deficit or keeping undocumented immigrants in the shadows? As you may know, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released its analysis of the Senate’s immigration reform bill (S. 744). The CBO approximates that S.744 will reduce the federal deficit by $197 billion during the first ten years after its passage and will axe another $700 billion off the deficit in its second decade.

I know that many of your constituents are pressuring you to vote against any immigration bill that has a path to citizenship in it. In so requesting, those constituents are asking you to vote in favor of keeping the deficit—and America's dependence on China-- high. They are also asking you to vote in favor of “de facto amnesty” for those millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States today.

We both know that deporting every undocumented person is too expensive for the U.S. government to undertake and lacks the humanitarian values our country cherishes. We also know that in November 2012, voters rejected the presidential candidate who proposed self-deportation as a viable solution to our nation’s immigration issues.

I encourage you to look at the long-term consequences to your party's future when you vote on a comprehensive immigration bill. If you vote “no” on a meaningful immigration bill like S.744, your party will have a hard time winning the White House in the future. I urge you to listen to respected members of your party, such as Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, when they tell you it is time for Republicans to “cease being the obstacle” to immigration reform. If immigration reform dies in the House this year, the 70% of the population who support immigration reform will blame your party for killing the bill that would have protected people they care about. This is not a good reputation to have as immigrant supporters are growing in number.

In contrast, if you and your party vote “yes” to meaningful comprehensive immigration reform, Republicans will have at least thirteen (13) years before any newly registered immigrant will be able to apply for U.S. citizenship. Surely in thirteen years you and your Republican colleagues will figure out a way to woo these new voters. In my opinion, legalizing the undocumented population in the U.S. could be the best thing that ever happened to the Republican party. Hispanic immigrants, for example, tend to have strong family values, oppose abortion, and are highly religious. They would be ideal Republicans if your party would show your support for them in this meaningful way.

So I conclude by asking this question: do you prioritize punishing immigrants or decreasing the deficit? Before answering, my advice is that you visit the undocumented agricultural workers in the farms of Missouri or talk to the dishwasher at the next restaurant you stop. Get to know the hard-working men and women that make America's economy run. Meet their U.S. citizen children. I bet you will be surprised at what you find—and how much you actually have in common-- when you get to know these people. As Chris Christie recently said, “[i]t’s harder to hate someone up close.”

A vote for comprehensive immigration reform protects your party’s future, preserves immigrant families, and cuts almost $1 trillion off the federal deficit. There could be no clearer win-win-win. So please prioritize deporting the deficit, not immigrants.

By: Andrea C. Martinez
Associate Attorney for McCrummen Immigration Law Group