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Caravan of immigrants crossing a bridge

Freedom and Immigration-Part 1

By Trish Overby

I saw a billboard this week on my journey down from a Pennsylvania business trip to home.  It said, “Fear is contagious, so is hope.”  It struck me because of this week’s announcement by the President of a ‘crisis on the border’ -- which whips up fear with just those few words.  But is it true?  Is there a crisis on the southern border which we should be acting upon, even in the midst of a government shutdown?

Detained Immigrant Children

The caravan that has come up from Central America arrived around Thanksgiving at Tijuana, Mexico.  It included 6000 people (families and individuals) who had spent more than 3 months walking, riding and driving up through the countries of Guatemala and Mexico.  The organization that brought them up safely was Pueblos Sin Fronteras (Towns Without Borders).  They took the long route up rather than the shorter route to Texas.  The city of Tijuana knew of their arrival and prepared refugee accommodation as quickly and as much as they could.

Presently there are only 2000 people applying for asylum. Others have found jobs in surrounding areas of Tijuana and are planning to stay in Mexico -- especially as it would probably take up to 6 months before they could apply for asylum. Many are applying for economic reasons or for security reasons. (Gangs or politicians are threatening their families and livelihood.) All who apply will receive due process to their applications -- but with this amount of people it will take time to process and research claims.

US ApprehensionsUS Deportations

So where is this crisis happening? There are still people who are illegally entering the US. Statistics are only based on apprehensions of illegal entries. It peaked in 2000 at 1.64 million and has generally declined since, totalling 397,000 in 2018. (See left graph.) Also, according to statistics from 2000 to 2016 (the last year for which full numbers are available), for each year almost the same number of illegal immigrants that were apprehended, returned voluntarily or were removed from the US. (Compare the two graphs.)The amount of entries and removes (“the compulsory and confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable alien out of the United States based on an order of removal”) I don’t think of as being a crisis – except that it costs money to process, house and take care of these people until it is decided whether they stay or go.

Border Patrol

As far as I see it with statistics and applications, there is no crisis. Facts do speak for themselves. Illegal immigration is down, not up. As a land of immigrants, we should not be fearful of other immigrants coming to our country legally to work and study. If they follow the correct process, which takes time to apply for citizenship, we should not fear them. Why? After all, our forefathers came here for the same freedoms. They came to work hard and live the American dream. I believe that is the same for every new immigrant and citizen.

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