Immigration laws getting out of hand


Ever since the new president took office earlier this year, a new emphasis has been placed on the topic of America’s immigration policies and enforcement of the law. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is responsible for enforcing federal immigration and customs laws by investigating, arresting, detaining, and removing illegal aliens from the United States. Even though ICE has been in existence since 2003, it is being more heavily enforced under the Trump administration, especially in Austin.

Much of President Trump’s rhetoric was based on demonizing minority groups and casting them as criminals, trespassers, and terrorists. He even said once that undocumented people in the U.S. from Mexico were all involved in rape or drugs. These started off as angry opinions but now that he’s taken office, Trump is able to act on these hateful stereotypes.

In the past weeks, there’s been new government efforts to increase deportation. Luckily, there’s also been protests and outcries to protect these innocent undocumented immigrants.

Around 11 million in this country are living outside the law, and considered undocumented. They try to live a normal life by providing for themselves and their family. Now, all of a sudden, they are being vilified by the President who views them as “bad hombres.” This large minority are a priority for deportation because they are all viewed as criminals by the rest of the country.

This surge of deportation has made racists and xenophobes believe the things they say are justified now. Legal citizens are now fearful that they don’t belong when strangers verbally abuse them about their heritage. When hateful rhetoric like, “get out of my country” or “build a wall” is told to these minorities, fear becomes interlaced within whole communities’ both citizens and non-citizens.

Because of these random ICE raids, immigrants live in fear of deportation. Up until now, the majority of these people have found jobs and started families with U.S. born children. The deportation process is breaking apart families and disrupting the workforce.

Also, deportation can be very unfair for some because they may have been doing everything in their power to gain citizenship. Despite these efforts, the U.S. government is still not very efficient in this specific area because it can take many years to receive a citizenship through the legal system.

It appears as though Austin ISD strives to make students feel as safe as possible at the schools due to the fear of deportation. An email was recently sent to student and parent emails stating the policy that the AISD board established which is to create a safe, education-focused environment free of insecurity and fear for both staff and students, regardless of immigration status.

The school district is allowed to express this idea because under the United States Supreme Court ruling, Plyler v. Doe, all children are allowed a public education regardless of theirs or their parents’ immigration status.

On the AISD website, support for refugee and immigrant students can be found. The AISD Refugee Support Office is there to serve as a language and resource hub, translation and interpretations for families, school registration support, and social and emotional support. The AISD Welcome Center also provides similar support.

If this country continues on this path of demonizing immigrants and refugees, a whiter and less diverse America is inevitable and this is not a good thing in the year 2017. There are most definitely steps in the right direction like school districts protecting every student’s right to education and cities claiming to be sanctuary cities, meaning these cities prohibit police officers from enforcing immigration laws. However, this may not be good enough because the Trump administration has threatened to cut federal funding as a punishment.

The actions within government may not be enough so it’s important to exercise the right of freedom of speech when there’s evident racist change in this country. By voicing opinions and attending public events like protests, it will inspire others and provide a voice for the vulnerable. This has been proven effective very recently with the airport protests regarding the Muslim ban because Trump’s executive order was not successful so it can be done again.

The United States is the “melting pot” of the world. We should be doing everything we can to reach out to the world’s immigrants in an effort to continue to be the world leader that we have been for so many years.

Art by: Gavin Farner