Several years ago, I attended a lecture by recent Harvard graduate who wrote her dissertation on immigration. Her presentation that dealt mostly with Latino immigrants casually mentioned that 40 percent of Canadians in this country are undocumented.
That was also the time that public figures and others stressed that they were not against immigrants only against immigrants that came illegally to the United States. The culmination of that cycle was the campaign and election of President Trump who rode to electoral victory by branding Mexican immigrants as rapist and criminals.
As it happens, Mexicans are no longer coming across the border to work because that labor resource is pretty-well done. At the same time, Central Americans have begun to come to this country for other reasons.
They are seeking asylum from violence in their home countries. Contrary to the previous flow of Mexican workers coming across our southern border, many under an unlawful cloud, Central Americans reasons for seeking asylum are very well within the framework of U.S. law.
That does not seem to make any difference to Donald Trump and those that follow him or do his bidding. It does not make a difference why they come or why they are here.
That reminds me of my time in North Carolina where the “N” word and the “M” word are still used as racist terms to demean people. I was not there too long before I heard Latinos complain that no matter if they were Cuban, Puerto Rican, Venezuelan, Colombian or another Latin American nationality, to the racist element they are all “Mexican” meant in the most pejorative way.
Prejudice appears to be part of the national dynamics of an immigrant country where the majority is generally from one race, ethnicity, religion or place and the minorities are from another. In the late 19th and the 20th centuries this factor was taken to an extreme not only in Europe, but also in the United States where laws and practices led to the exclusion of Chinese and other Asians, followed by Easter and Southern Europeans and of course, Jews.
Mexicans did not escape this movement even though they were needed as labor for a growing country. In 1929, Section 1325 of Title 8, U.S. Code was passed by Congress making it a crime for aliens not to use approved ports of entry when coming to the United States.
History tells us that because of wars and labor needs, this law was not generally enforced for almost 80 years until President George W. Bush reactivated it after 9/11. The Obama administration used it as well.
But it was the Trump administration that saw this law as an opportunity for his anti-immigrant agenda. By deliberately denying entry at approve ports he set up Central Americans and others seeking asylum to find alternatives to get into the United States in order to turn themselves in. Branding these folks as criminals, parents were separated from their children and most sent to different detention camps where living conditions are worse than in the third-world.
The separation of families and the deliberate treatment especially of the children as animals is beginning to weigh on the conscience of Americans whose representatives are verifying the worse. Even the DHS Inspector General has issued an alert about “Dangerous Overcrowding and Prolonged Detention of Children and Adults in the Rio Grande Valley.”
Trump will not listen because this is exactly what he wants. The alternative are the courts and the ballot box.