Over third week of February, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of the Department of Homeland Security, arrested hundreds in operations across the United States. Raids on homes and businesses in New York, Illinois, Florida, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, resulted in the arrest of approximately 600 in a two-week period, 160 in Los Angeles alone.
So, who are those being arrested? Reportedly, 75-percent of them had felony convictions, the rest had either misdemeanor convictions or were in the country illegally. More than three dozen were immediately deported back to Mexico.
Officials have stated that these raids are part of routine operations and not necessarily a result of the presidential crack-down on illegal immigration. DHS Secretary John Kelly stated in a news conference that ICE is, “Upholding the law,” and insists, “No one is being ‘rounded up.’ The people being arrested are illegal immigrants, and then some.”
What does not seem to be taken into consideration anywhere in this problem are the children of illegal immigrants who are United States citizens by birth, but whose parents are undocumented. When the parents are deported, kids are left with family members, often who are illegal themselves and may be sent away as well.
Still people are scared. Immigrants, legal and otherwise, their American relatives, friends, and other immigrant family members are terrified. Parents are being ripped from children, and anyone who is here legally that may need to return to their home country for any reason are scared they won’t be able to return.
This is a sticky conundrum. The great majority of illegal immigrants have risked great danger to come here and work and make a better life for their families. Are they breaking the law? Yes. Are they felons and rapists and murderers? No, not by any stretch of the imagination. Can they be helped to obtain legal status? Yes – easily. But no one working for the current administration is ever going to do that.
The fact of the matter is that when someone comes into the country illegally, they’re taking a risk, one made even bigger where other family members are concerned. The risk of being deported is always there and it’s hard to get Americans on board with the idea that these individuals should be allowed to stay and provided easy access to citizenship.
But there actually are some genuinely negative economic effects of illegals working in the country. According to a February 12 New York Times article, “Similarly-skilled native-born workers are faced with a choice of either accepting lower pay or not working in (a particular) field at all. Labor economists have concluded that undocumented workers have lowered the wages of U.S. adults without a high-school diploma — 25 million of them — by anywhere between 0.4 to 7.4 percent.” That’s bound to bring on some resentment by Americans.
But what Americans should also know is that undocumented immigrants are already taxpayers. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a research organization that works on tax policy issues, reports that, collectively, illegal immigrants paid an estimated $10.6 billion to state and local taxes in 2010. Apparently the U.S. Government is fine with “looking the other way” on illegals, so long as they are paying taxes.
The big issue here is awareness; awareness by Americans to the real problem with immigration – crime. Yes, we should be deporting criminals at every turn. Not a year after their convictions, but the instant the sentence is handed down. They should go from the court room to the authorities of their country of origin to be deported in custody, not released at the border like some captured raccoon from your trash cans.
Those who are here working and making a better life for their families have rights. To those people reading this I say, know your rights. An ICE officer cannot enter your home without your permission and a warrant signed by a judge. If you’re arrested, say nothing, sign nothing without talking to an attorney. Hang in there. America really is the place you came here for – it’s just that sometimes even good people make bad decisions. Have faith and stay strong.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com