Take a number

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that EWIs (those who enter the country without inspection) are an insult to legal immigrants and that if they want to come into the country, they need to wait in line with everyone else. But I can tell you how many times I’ve heard an immigrant or non-citizen tell me how insulting it was that people jumped the border. That would be zero.

That idea is insulting to me. First, it lumps all non-citizens into one category who must think a certain way. Second, it demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of immigration.

The take away that I want to highlight is that it’s not a line so much as a system based on class. The United States is not first come, first served. If you have a citizen family member and money, then welcome. If you are educated or skilled, then welcome. If you are not, go home. Maybe this is cold-hearted of me, but some of that makes sense. We want people who will contribute to our society. But it seems to me that we don’t value the contributions of unskilled labor, which I think is classist and disgusting. We’ve heard over and over again the myth that those who enter without inspection take the jobs of hard working Americans. Yet didn’t Colbert prove that just isn’t true?

Our county, our economy, rely heavily on the work of immigrant and unauthorized workers.

Without the cheap labor provided by those who enter without inspection, we would pay much more for our produce. For this reason,  there is a huge economic incentive to prevent any sort of immigration reform, especially a path to citizenship. So, in my cynical view, it becomes politicians complaining about immigration to appease a xenophobic base but not providing solutions to appease business interests.

So when someone says to you that those who enter without inspection are an insult to hard working non-Americans, ask they how many immigrants and non-citizens they spoke to. Ask them how big their sample size is. Ask them if they think all immigrants can be lumped together as thinking and believing one thing. I suspect this consideration of the feelings of those fortunate enough to be educated or have American family members is really a way to hide racism or business interests.

On the other hand, if you are an immigrant or non-citizen who thinks that entry without inspection is insulting, please tell me why. And if you feel like sharing, I’d love to know about your experience coming to the country.

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About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
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7 Responses to Take a number

  1. Muriel says:

    I’m not a U.S.citizen, but not an immigrant, so I speak without authority, but of course I agree. Mostly.

    • emmawolf says:

      I feel like I have a million questions about immigration in Germany. What are the policies there like? I’m curious about how it works in relation to the EU but not sure I even know how to phrase my question. In the US, it’s a big deal that immigration is a federal only thing. States can’t make or enforce immigration laws. And since this is what is familiar to me, it makes sense to me. So I’m wondering how it all works in the EU given that the member countries may have different immigration laws. (Does that make sense or is my ignorance really showing?)

      • Muriel says:

        I have to be honest here, I don’t know a lot about our immigration law. I’ve studied business law, and this wasn’t part of our curriculum, so there. From what I gather, the Union has passed Directives for the Member States because of the free movement policy, but still, immigration is mainly under the Member States’ jurisdiction.
        It’s similar to many other areas: The Union is trying to find a reasonable common position and harmonize the laws, but it’s failing because the Member States don’t want to adapt (and immigration is, of course, an emotional topic), so they pass some Directives and recommendations but don’t dare to really touch the core issues.
        It seems to me that Germany has a more lenient stance towards refugees than the U.S. but a much more stupid policy towards qualified professionals (to wit, we usually don’t accept immigrants because they could contribute to our economy because they might steal our jobs).
        So, you see, no need to worry about your ignorance. Mine seems comparable, and I live here.
        Still, if you have more specific questions, I’ll be happy to learn about the topic and pass that on to you. I’m curious as well.

        • emmawolf says:

          What the stance toward refugees?

          • Muriel says:

            Until 1993, we used to have a (theoretically) unlimited right of political asylum, meaning anyone who needed it hat the right to asylum. In this year, our constitution was changed and some limitations adopted. There is still an absolute right to political asylum, but there are three exceptions:
            -Foreigners entering by way of another safe country cannot claim asylum.
            -Certain countries of origin are assumed safe, so no asylum is granted to people from those.
            -An application for asylum can be denied on the grounds that another EU country has jurisdiction by way of the EU’s internal rules.
            This seems to have had a significant effect since the number of applications has declined from 400,000 in 1990 to 60,000 in 2012. I haven’t found numbers on acceptance quota before 2000, but if you’re interested, in 2001 (high), 5% of applications were accepted, and in 2006 (low), it was .8%.
            What’s it like in the U.S.?

            • emmawolf says:

              In the US, you can get asylum if you are persecuted because of your race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group (which is undefined) and the government of the country of origin is either doing the persecuting or unwilling or unable to stop it.

              Since the term “social group” is not defined, it leads to a lot of uncertainty. The country is divided into 11 jurisdictions that will handle the appeals of asylum denials (but all can appeal to the Supreme Court after that). Some of the jurisdictions are stricter than others, so if you’re claiming a social group, your success may depend more on where you enter the country than your claim (but I’m cynical).

              I just looked up statistics, and apparently the US is around 43%! Wow! http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/imm_asy_see_acc_rat-seekers-acceptance-rates-1990-99

              That was close to 15 years ago, and my guess is things have changed a bit since then. Still, I’m surprised.

  2. Muriel says:

    Who’da thunk it?
    I guess in asylum policies, the details are much more important than the general rule. As I said, our German constitution basically just states “Anyone has the right to political asylum”, but if you then go on to define that you need to have been at least falsely imprisoned and lashed to apply for it, and that Russia, China and Iran will be considered safe states with spotless legal systems and thus any punishment meted out by them will be assumed just and right…
    Of course, this is not German policy. I was just looking for obvious examples.

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