I think you and I actually have a lot in common. I appreciate you taking the time to respond so thoughtfully. I hear two main points in your response.
- You seem to think I don’t believe people can hold conservative viewpoints in good faith. This is false. It is also a misreading of my article.
You seem to hold your position on immigration, for example, in good faith. Many conservative thinkers, IMO, want the greatest good for the greatest number, just as I do, and you seem to be of that mind. I love a good discussion with reasonable, caring people who are more conservative than I am, and for that reason I will write a long response to your point #2!
However, I don’t believe Trump or those complicit with him (in the GOP establishment) are of that mind. I see their rhetoric, their attitudes, and their policies causing lots of unnecessary harm. I wrote this article for others who share that opinion. This was an opinion piece.
2. On immigration, you present an interesting theory that enforcing harsher immigration laws more forcefully would encourage more to follow the laws and immigrate legally. This is a theory, and runs counter to my experience in immigration. This hypothesis, without STRONG evidence, does not justify the real, concrete harm such harsh treatment is causing right now. We need comprehensive immigration reform, undoubtedly. You and I agree on this. What Trump and the GOP are doing IS NOT THAT.
A few facts about immigration:
- Illegal immigration has gone down in recent years, even under Obama.
- Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than are native citizens.
- Undocumented immigrants pay taxes, and are not eligible for many forms of government assistance.
- If legal immigrants receive government assistance, they get off of it more quickly than do native citizens.
So, what harm are they causing? In my opinion, we should have damn good reason to cause people harm if we’re going to do so.
A little of my background: I have worked for a decade with recent immigrants from Latin America. I lived in Guatemala for a time. I currently work in a legal office assisting asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors. I see every day how people are suffering as a result of the current administration. Families are being ripped apart. People are living in fear. People are being put in grave danger. I look into their eyes and see their pain, and that’s a big part of why I’m so upset about Trump. The suffering is real, and it is unnecessary. And I ask myself, “What in God’s name would make anyone feel justified in letting these people suffer and die before truly reforming the system? Why cause the harm first, and fix the laws later?”
These are people who would do ANYTHING to come here legally. The problem is, our immigration laws are dysfunctional and draconian, so coming here legally is virtually impossible for many. They do not “feel invited.” They know they are here illegally. However, there used to be clear avenues for people from many countries to come here legally. Now there are not.
Here is an example: Obama created a program which made it possible for minors to begin applying for asylum while still in their home countries. That way, they wouldn’t have to make the dangerous trip to the U.S. before starting their application. Trump has ended this program. Why? How is that humane? How is it humane to rip people out of courtrooms, out of hospitals, or to deport a man after he drops his daughter off at school? Again, any potential good from these scenarios is only theoretical. The suffering is real.
The CIA helped overthrow a democratically elected president in Guatemala in 1954 (we thought he was communist, and also we didn’t like how he treated our fruit corporations). We helped install a military leader. Thus began a series of military regimes, civil war, and genocide. President Reagan assisted that genocide by arming the Guatemala military in the 1980s. Now, the country is still in ruins. Gangs run many areas. Income inequality is out of control. Corruption is rampant. But the U.S. has never made any attempt to repair these wrongs. Instead, we now want to exclude those who flee the country, and our President demonizes them as criminals. Heartless. Inhumane. Cruel.
You seem quick to do exactly what you accuse me of doing: misrepresenting your motives and dismissing your viewpoints. Accusing me of believing what I do out of a desire to “feel good” or to have “moral superiority” is exactly that. So is suggesting I am naive and do not understand the “complexity” of immigration. Such comments are condescending, mansplaining, placing yourself superior. Can you believe I hold my positions out of good faith, because I am thinking critically and educating myself? Can you believe I want to minimize suffering as much as possible because I really care about those who are hurting? I see an appalling degree of such demonization directed toward liberals right now, especially from POTUS himself. For that reason, I continue to urge you to direct your criticism toward those on the far right.