Wednesday, November 26, 2014

On Obama's Immigration Gambit

For those who missed it this past Thursday, the American President, Barack Obama, announced that he was taking action via an Executive order to fix the US Immigration system.  Depending upon one's feelings on the subject, Obama either an extremely bold step to do what the US Congress should have done years ago, or He made one of the most shameless power grabs by the Executive in recent history.
Whatever one's feelings, it is reported that the action will allow some 5 million undocumented immigrants to now live and work legally in the United States.
In the following piece, Katie Couric frames up what has occurred:

For most thinking persons, the stated results should come as very good news, especially when one considers that it now gives the right for undocumented parents of children who do have legal status to stay with their family and to provide for them in a more dignified manner.  However, the GOP appears to have taken to extreme rhetoric in opposition to the President's humanitarian actions.
Even the writers at Saturday Night Live seemed inclined to highlight the power grab element of what presumably will be Executive Order 13683 once it is recorded.
While the GOP position, that America should do more to protect its borders in conjunction with allowing those who are here without documents to receive amnesty, appears logical, it is completely devoid of morality and human decency.
We are all immigrants.  And failure to recognize this basic fact is cause for seemingly endless strife in many places on God's green earth.  The right to reside on a certain piece of geography via a piece of paper and a  formal relationship with the tax farm is a construct of 20th Century Imperialism.  The idea of carrying a passport for the common man or woman only came into being around the time of WWI.
People Immigrate because they are looking for a better life.  It should flatter the current inhabitants of the United States of America that they believe that they can build that life here, as the ancestors of the current inhabitants, the immigrants of generations past, have been able to do.  To put unreasonable measures which rip families apart and deny those who are ambitious and courageous enough to leave everything behind to pursue the modern-day American Dream is not only wrong, it is self-defeating to any nation that desires to remain on the cutting edge of progress.
Our Time as an Undocumented Immigrant
It may come as a surprise to our readers that we have spent time as an "undocumented" immigrant in both Spain and Bolivia.  We did not sneak across the border into these lands, as one might imagine.  We arrived via normal channels through airports, as many undocumented immigrants in America have come.
Our passport was stamped and away we went, in search of pursuing our dreams.  There was one catch, the achievement of our dreams in these places was to take a good deal more than the 90 days supposedly allotted us on our visitor's visa.  As such, we went to the immigration authorities of the respective countries and began the long and expensive road to legitimizing our status through a process that can only be described as a colossal waste of time and effort for all involved.
In Spain, we waited all morning in a cue only to arrive at the window 6 hours later to submit our application.  When we arrived, we were told to wait some more.  Amazingly, they did not even give us the dignity of a lavatory and, after the seven hour ordeal, our bladder was in rough shape.
Once our school was done, we were fortunate enough to land a job with an American company, Sara Lee, and we thought our immigration troubles were over.  However, after waiting in two similar cues over the course of seven months and still not being able to begin work as we waited on the Spanish bureaucracy to process our application, we'd had enough.  The process was ludicrous, and we parted for Bolivia with our bride to be.
In Bolivia, the process did not involve as many cues, but it did involve some nervous periods of time when our passport was sequestered for weeks on end to be "translated." 
Perhaps the most blatant example of the sham of Immigration processes was their requirement that we obtain an "International Criminal Record" from an organization next door called "Interpol."  Once inside, the kind gentlemen at Interpol would give you two options.  Option one, which carried a cost of 10 Bolivianos (roughly $1.50) would render a "Criminal check" in about a week.  However, there was another, slightly more expensive option, running around 100 Bolivianos, which would render a "Criminal check" on the spot.
Naturally, the more expensive and necessarily less thorough 100 Boliviano International criminal check was the more popular choice.
The point of recounting our struggles with Immigration abroad is this:  There are many people living within our borders who desperately want to do the right thing and legitimize their status.  However, they do not have 5 to 10 years to put their life and ambitions on hold wait for their fate to be decided by some sort of visa lottery or bureaucratic process.  All the while living peaceful, productive lives with the constant fear that it could all be taken away on a whim.
The Immigration system is not just, it is inhumane and a great impediment to the further progress of the United States of America or any Country that puts politics and nationalism ahead of people.  If President Obama has taken steps to remedy this stain on America, then he has done a great service to 5 million human beings who can now live their lives without fear.  If he had to sidestep a political process to do this, then the true problem lies in the political process, not in the actions of one who is acting with humane intent.