The problem isn’t the immigrants – it’s the system

Our system should welcome immigrants, not maximize their deportation. Photo by RSHM LIFE Center.

Trump’s statement about illegal immigrants, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” seems to be more applicable to ICE agents than to illegal immigrants. In the past few years ICE agents have been caught stealing drugs from investigations and breaking international laws against the treatment of asylum seekers, and have had over one thousand complaints of sexual abuse filed against them. Recent events bring to question if there are good people left in ICE following a few well-publicized cases of ICE employees retiring after being horrified by policies of separating children from families and ignoring caged children when they cry for help.

US immigration has always had problems accepting newcomers and is built on racism. Notably bad policies in our history include implementing quotas for immigrants, turning back jews when they sought asylum fleeing Hitler’s Germany, deporting citizens of Mexican descent during the Great Depression, and sending the Coast Guard to turn back refugees fleeing a dictatorship in Haiti.  More recently we have seen the US refuse to take any significant amount of Syrian refugees and reach the highest number of deportations in our history. Although the immigration system has significantly changed over time, the one consistent aspect has been terrible treatment of immigrants. It is time to change that.

Unfortunately this is much harder than it seems as supporters of a better immigration system often get painted as “anti-American”. Racists paint immigrants as importing crime, taking jobs from American workers, and “destroying” American culture. These claims have no basis in reality. Immigrants commit significantly less crime than native born citizens and are more likely to be the victims of many crimes than native born citizens due to the American attitude of punishing and isolating immigrants.  The myth that immigrants take jobs from Americans is also upsettingly common and some on the left even fall for it. The truth is that as immigrants come into the country, raising the supply of labor, they also raise the demand for labor in equal portion as they also consume goods and services. Remittances they send home have a very similar effect to citizens who work in a city and live in a suburb. The final accusation that immigrants will “wipe out American culture” is usually built on the idea that American culture is only white culture. In fact, most cultural icons come from places with many, many immigrants. The exchange of ideas where cultures meet is what makes most of American culture possible.

The problem obviously isn’t with the immigrants, it is with the system. The organization that currently “handles” immigration should be shuttered because while it has some departments performing legitimate roles such as fighting human trafficking, these jobs can be done just as well by other agencies that do not propagate blatant racism.

The author is a student at Washington College, studying politics and economics.

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